Overview

Practice Focus

Environmental and land use review strategy and management—Complexity…simplified.

Steve Davis is a consulting engineer helping clients who need management and oversight of projects where the environmental review process is complex, controversial or has become stalled. Steve provides…

  • Strategic advice and environmental review management for new projects;
  • Compliance assurance for existing facilities;
  • Communications and conflict resolution with regulatory agencies and the public; and
  • Due diligence, financial analyses, and critical path method scheduling.

Steve has experience with NEPA, MEPA, US EPA, USACE, MassDEP, FHWA, FAA, MassDOT, MassDCR, MCP, NHESP, MassDAR, MHC, and analogous agencies throughout the New England states.  (And he can decode and demystify all those acronyms and more.)

Steve also provides pro bono career advice and guidance to those entering the land use and environmental review field and those seeking to make changes within the field.

Background

Steve founded Rackemann Strategic Consulting in 1989 and has served as its president since. His experience before that includes:

  • Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office, Boston, 1984 to 1989. Prin­cipal Civil Engineer (1984) and Assistant Secretary, Environmental Impact Review (1986). Co-authored the 1987 revised Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Regulations, reviewed major development projects, and managed the Commonwealth’s primary environmental impact review program for the Secretary of Environmental Affairs.
  • Jason M. Cortell and Associates, Inc., Waltham, Mass., 1972 to 1984. Envi­ronmental Engineer (1972), Project Director (1973), Director of Technical Studies (1977) and Vice President (1981) for a nationally known environmental consulting firm providing complete analysis, review, and approval services to a wide range of private and public clients.

Honors, Awards, and Appointments

  • NAIOP Public Service Award, 2004 and 2007
  • MassEEA Greenhouse Gas Policy Group, 2009-2011
  • MassDEP Regulatory Reform Working Group, 2011-2017
  • MassEEA MEPA Regulations Working Group, 1998 and 2008
  • MassDEP Title 5 Working Group, 2017-2018
Notable Experience

Notable Experience

  • Strategic Advice
    For private, institutional, and not-for-profit clients, Steve’s efforts focus on the strategy and tactics of review and development for new projects, on environmental compliance assurance for existing facilities, and on liaisons with regulatory agencies. Steve has advised several hundred private development projects on environmental review strategy, including retail and commercial development, contaminated property reuse, industrial subdivisions, parking facilities, single and multi-family housing projects, waterfront development, mixed-use developments, and smart-growth projects.  Steve’s major current and recent projects include a major transit-oriented development in Somerville, a mixed-use project in Canton, a major energy facility in Boston, a large retail project in North Attleborough, and MESA habitat review and permitting for several projects on the islands.  Steve also has served as strategic advisor for environmental review and environmental regulatory matters to the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC), and the Governor of Rhode Island.  For public sector clients, Steve brings his skills to bear on environmental review strategy, policy analyses, regulatory assessments, capital planning, and development feasibility.  Major projects include the UMass Lowell Strategic Development Plan, the UMass Boston Master Plan, Logan Airport Modernization, Worcester Commuter Rail Extension, and the Quonset Davisville (RI) Master Plan and Container Port Study.
  • Environmental Review Management
    Steve often manages the preparation of environmental review documents. This begins with the negotiation of an appropriate scope of study with reviewing agencies. From that scope, he develops scopes of work for each technical contractor, assists in the selection of suitable technical contractors, provides a writers guide outline of all text to be produced and provides quality assurance and quality control review of all draft text. Where needed, he redrafts text or drafts particularly sensitive text directly. Finally, he can assemble, produce, and handle the proper filing of the review document. He also provides effective liaison services between the project proponent, its technical team, and regulators. The result is environmental review documents and processes that meet the needs of regulating agencies while achieving project objectives in a timely and cost effective way. He has provided such services on several hundred public and private sector projects.
  • Conflict Resolution/Communications
    Where there is public or agency concern with the real or perceived impacts of a project, Steve provides issue identification, negotiation with affected parties, representation in public and agency meetings, and mediation among affected interests. Such situations arise in the context of alleged violations, where negotiations with permit agencies must be carried out, in the remediation of contaminated sites, where both communica­tions with nearby residents and negotia­tions with potentially responsible parties often are needed, and in the environmental impact review of large or controversial projects, where public presentations and agency liaisons can be the key to success. His assignments in this area have included negotiating consent agreements in lieu of administrative or civil penalty actions on private projects, negotiating appropriate permit conditions for new develop­ment, and ministering to complex lease negotia­tions where potential tenants have environmental concerns. He also has represented clients successfully in negotiations around endangered species and historical resources.
Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • NAIOP Massachusetts—The Commercial Real Estate Development Association – Member and past Chair of the Environmental Committee.
  • Environmental Business Council of New England
  • 495/MetroWest Partnership
  • Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Honors Society
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society
  • Boston Harbor Now
Publications

Publications & Talks

Steve is a regular presenter on land use and environmental matters, including:

  • Moderator, Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy in Massachusetts, 2005
  • Guest Lecturer at MIT, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, and Wentworth
  • Speaker on MEPA and Permitting Strategy
  • MCLE Panelist on Land Use and Environmental Matters
  • The New MEPA Regulations, 1998
  • Reviewing and Revising the MEPA Regulations, 1997
  • The Saga of City Line Center, 1996
  • Environmental Science for Environmental Attorneys, 1991
  • Zoning Disputes, Appeals and Strategies, 1990