In the months or years leading up to any large construction project, a great deal of work has already taken place to ensure the project complies with state and federal regulations. 

Pre-planning helps ensure your project remains on track while also alleviating unexpected and costly surprises (e.g. you learn of a threatened species within the construction zone, bringing all work to a grinding halt).

Studies, reports, permissions, and permits are long lead items and require consultation with development professional as early as possible, as any one of these things may slow the start of breaking ground, even on a site you on which you currently operate.

Lot lines, easements, and surface water issues may require real estate transactions. 

Due to the complexity of these issues, it’s highly advisable to hire a knowledgeable Owner Project Manager who can help advise and navigate the various commissions, permitting, and reviews needed. An OPM with an extensive network can also recommend or hire other professional firms, such as environmental engineers, as needed.

Site location

Almost all sites adjoin other properties or in some instances, waterways. This means you must understand the local and state jurisdiction of your site – and that of your neighbors.  As part of the pre-planning process, you’ll need to consider the following: 

Planning board review – Generally, planning boards review plans and proposals as outlined in their state general laws. For large projects, the planning board may call a special meeting with the general public and city staff view and comment on the proposed project. Before attending a planning board review, you may be required to bring documents, such as a certificate of compliance, project plans, site evaluations, etc. 

Building code classification changes – Building codes change regularly, which means you must keep abreast of these changes before the project begins – as well as during the project. 

Neighborhood or city special commissions – These special interest groups are comprised of residents and/or business owners within a neighborhood or city. They meet regularly to discuss any potential impacts to the neighborhood, such as planned utility outages, road closures, or increased industrial traffic due to a large construction project.  

Marine or port locations – These locations have navigable waters, which adds complexity, as well as their own special jurisdictions, environmental impacts, and security concerns. 

Environmental impacts

Thorough planning in the early stages, as well as hiring an experienced environmental engineering firm, helps move a project through local and state regulatory bodies – significantly reducing costs and keeping things on track. 

When planning your project, you’ll need to consider:

  • Conservation Commission approvals – Commissions are set up by a town or city for the promotion and development of its natural resources, including the protection of watershed resources. Many construction projects must obtain approval from some form of local commission.
  • Wetlands, soil, groundwater or endangered species impacts – Environmental issues, including even the perceived presence of a threatened or endangered species (including plant life) can stop a project dead in its tracks. Depending on the situation, costly project redesigns can be avoided with the help of a professional environmental engineering firm. 
  • Historic Commissions – Historic preservations bodies often have a say in project planning.  Historic ground can be subject to archeologic investigation or special conditions.  
  • Prior pollution issues – Due to the release of hazardous waste into soil, groundwater, or surface water, a site may be subject to a Corrective Action Program (CAP), which falls under the purview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A CAP requires a site owner to conduct investigations and clean up actions to protect human health and the environment – all of which can significantly delay a project.


  • Existing, new or both – Utilities serve your project or may pass through the job site on an easement. Or, the prior owner may have granted easements that affect your new site plan. 
  • Utility construction – Public Utilities have their own well-established timetables for building out new service to your project.  Your special power or fuel requirements need to be identified as early as possible as you’ll need to get these installations on the local utility’s construction schedule – which often is a year or more in advance of when your project needs to come to life. 

As the Owner’s Project Manager for industrial projects throughout New England and the U.S., Abby Industrial provides complete project management, experience, and expertise to ensure your project stays on track and on budget. 

Read through our Services pages to see how we can help you manage your next capital product or systems installation. 

Filed under: Industry News