Haverhill Councilors Seek to Loosen Restrictions on Home Electric Vehicle Charging

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

The Haverhill City Council last week took the first steps toward moving the city into the vanguard of encouraging emission-free transportation by loosening certain home restrictions.

Those steps focus on a ruling passed by the state last August requiring all new cars sold in Massachusetts must operate on electric or hydrogen power by the year 2035. While that mandate is still several years off, Haverhill resident Melissa Rousselle told councilors now is the time for the city to prepare for this upcoming transformation which will require the ability to charge those electric vehicles.

“This new law will require significant improvements to infrastructure in order to support the increasing volume of EVs that will be in use. I urge you to consider whether or not the City of Haverhill is prepared for this inevitability,” she said.

Rousselle said while the city does have a limited number of charging stations already in place, some are not accessible to the public and others charge a high fee to use the service. For those reasons, Rousselle said she is advocating for the Council to pass a “Right to Charge” law.

“The ability for every EV-owning resident of this city to charge at home is going to be a key factor. Similar ordinances have already been enacted in both Boston and Cambridge as well as in states such as Florida and Oregon,” she explained.

Rousselle told councilors those ordinances help ensure homeowners, condominium owners and, in some cases, renters are not prohibited from installing electric vehicle charging stations on or near their property.

Councilors agreed with the need for such an ordinance and Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan outlined the procedure for creating it.

“What we do is we ask the solicitor to draw a home rule petition and it will be similarly worded to what Boston and Cambridge have. Once we do that, it goes before the state legislature. It can take anywhere from six months to a year, but if we start now, next year by this time we very well could have an ordinance,” he said.

Councilors agreed unanimously to send the proposal to the city solicitor in order to get the process underway.

In a separate, but equally green action, the Council also voted unanimously to support a city land grant application to purchase and protect watershed areas located near Crystal Lake on Crystal Street and Jericho Road in Haverhill.

In a letter to the Council, the city Environmental Health Technician Robert E. Moore Jr. called the property “a critical acquisition, not only for the protection of our drinking water quantity and quality but for the prevention of further habitat fragmentation in the Crystal Lake region.”

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