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Jones-Stanley (H4491) takes away existing community planning rights.

• Jones-Stanley effectively eliminates the community’s longstanding ability to guide the use of surplus land without having to purchase property already in the public domain. Such community guidance is currently provided through specific transfer legislation sponsored by local legislators accountable to the community. Jones-Stanley eliminates the traditional requirement for such locally sponsored legislation. Instead the bill provides an ineffective “legislative review” that allows automatic legislative approval of land transfers proposed by DCAM, (the Department of Capital Asset Management), without a recorded vote, and without a specific plan for the reuse of the property

• Jones-Stanley marginalizes the irreplaceable experience and knowledge of local citizens, boards of selectmen, city councils, planning boards, housing advocates and conservation commissions. It reduces local planners and concerned citizens to the role of supplicants before powerful, unaccountable, state panels that operate with little or no transparency. Experience with agencies such as Massport, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, DCAM and MassDevelopment have shown that this approach often fails to result in smart growth or sustainable, just land use decisions. And it increases the potential for dispositions wired from the inside for politically-connected developers.

• Jones-Stanley replaces local reuse committees with state bureaucracies. Under the current Chapter 7 rules for state land disposition, local re-use committees have been very successful in planning the reuse of surplus property for the benefit of local communities. Such committees draw upon community experience and expertise to carefully craft reuse plans for the site. Jones-Stanley allows consideration of existing reuse plans – currently in place – but makes no provision for new plans to be written. Under Jones-Stanley plans and proposals that are actually implemented are written by state bureaucracies. The Regional Planning Authority’s (RPA) “smart growth review” for any proposed transfer has no binding influence on any ultimate plan. And while the RPA can provide an essential planning perspective, it does not take the place of a locally informed, accountable re-use committee.

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