Legislation that rolls back democratic safeguards
for the disposition of state-owned public lands has been
reintroduced in the Massachusetts Legislature. The most drastic
bill (House 60) would sweep aside current Chapter 7 safeguards
that ensure legislative accountability and local participation
in land reuse planning. House 60 would promote the consumption
of scarce public land by intensive for-profit development.
It would squander the opportunity to use invaluable public
properties to help meet urgent community needs for open space,
affordable housing and community-based economic development.
The terms of the bill will make it very difficult for a local
housing authority or conservation commission to influence
the fate of state land within their community. Municipal
planners and citizens concerned about affordable housing
or environmental impacts will be sidelined. Both the House
and Senate versions let the key decisions be made behind
closed doors on Beacon Hill, with gubernatorial appointees
calling the shots. The Senate version only applies to properties
less than 25 acres, which at least preserves current safeguards
for larger, more complex dispositions.
Last year opposition by community groups, and the passage
of the more moderate Senate bill resulted in the House bill
dying in conference committee. The reintroduction of the
legislation means that Massachusetts cities and towns will
once again have to fight to defend their planning rights
against the threat of state-fostered overdevelopment. Read
on to learn how to protect your right to plan the use of
public land in your community.
COMMITTEES in order to preserve
local participation, and a balanced state-local
OPEN SPACE PROTECTION & AFFORDABLE HOUSING by
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.
- PROTECT SMART
GROWTH PRINCIPLES. Ensure
the protection of open space. Ensure joint
local and regional participation in smart growth
planning. Respect existing local plans to increase
affordable housing and protect open space.