Dear friend of sustainable, just communities,

Thanks to your input over the past year, a bill that would privatize state "surplus" lands and remove your community’s role in land use decisions (H4491) is now stalled on Beacon Hill! But the developer lobby is still pushing to get this harmful bill through before the end of the legislative session.

The bill may emerge from conference committee for a final vote any day- even today.

Please urge your legislator to support this bill only if the following provisions are included in the final version that emerges from the House/Senate conference committee:

– REQUIRE LOCAL REUSE COMMITTEES in order to preserve local participation, and a balanced state-local decision-making process.

– PRIORITIZE OPEN SPACE PROTECTION & AFFORDABLE HOUSING by allowing low or no-cost transfers of surplus property to municipalities, (or their non-profit designees) for public purpose. (The public should not have to pay top dollar for land that ALREADY belongs to the public.).

– PRESERVE LEGISLATIVE ACCOUNTABILITY by requiring a local legislative sponsor and a specific plan, based on the recommendation of the reuse committee BEFORE a sale is approved.

Click here for your legislators’ contact information.

Together we can ensure that public lands are used for the public good, not for windfall profits for the powerful and politically-connected.

Thank you for standing by our communities!

John Andrews
Mass. Coalition for Healthy Communities

[email protected]

PS. For more information, see the above links and a letter to state senators from over 30 public interest organizations.

Getting to the Truth about the Jones-Stanley Bill (H4491)
Flowchart of Public Land Disposal Process (H4491)
Text of H4491

Chapter 40T dies as veto prevails

Good news! Chapter 40T is DEAD – for now.

The Massachusetts Senate did NOT take up the override of the Governor’s veto of Chapter 40T, which means that the veto stands, and that legislation creating "special development districts" was not enacted.

Many thanks to everyone who contacted their senator to ask that the veto be sustained.

Chapter 40T would have permitted a small group of major landowners to petition for creation of a "special development district" in which an unelected committee of land owners would assume many of the powers of municipal government, including powers to initiate eminent domain takings, to impose additional property taxes (assessments), to pass by-laws, and to fine people for violating their by-laws.

Chapter 40T was written by development interests, and was not the product of a public discussion. It had no public hearing. It was viewed with alarm by observers from all parts of the political spectrum. Shirley Kressel, president of the Alliance of Boston Neighborhoods, wrote that "This is a privatization of government by a handful of big property owners." Barbara Anderson, founder of Citizens for Limited Taxation, wrote an open letter to legislators that said "I can’t help but notice that the proponents of these entities resemble the groups that pushed the commonwealth into the Big Digaster. Now they want the power to tax and to take property by eminent domain?"

So can we relax? Unfortunately, we can’t. Developer empowerment schemes that undermine democratic processes have been a theme of this year’s legislative session, and Chapter 40T will almost certainly be resurrected by its proponents. Sen. Thomas McGee, co-chair of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, told reporters that he still expects action in the Senate. History shows that when such measures are backed by well-funded interests, they reappear – often without warning – as text inserted into other bills. So vigilance will be required as long as the legislative leadership is determined to do special favors for real estate interests.

– John Andrews, President
Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities

Big Dig Secrets Revealed

You’ve heard that it was a flagrant abuse of the public trust. Now we have proof of how bad it really was: Click Here.

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