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March 21, 2005

Contact: Jill Stein, Mass. Coalition for
Healthy Communities


The Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities
(MCHC) today called for continuing community opposition
to the fast-track privatization of public lands being
proposed by Governor Romney and House Speaker Salvatore
DiMasi. MCHC President Jill Stein cited a growing
grassroots rejection of both the fast-track auction law
passed in 2003 and the new proposal from House Speaker
Salvatore DiMasi for fast-track leasing of state lands
to large corporations. Stein released the following

For the last three months, we have seen an outpouring
of grassroots support to restore community rights to
guide the use of public land within their borders. This
groundswell was triggered by the fast-track auction
law, Outside Section 548, which allows state lands to
be “surplused” and auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The measure has gone from obscurity to such controversy
that few legislators now defend it. But the latest
plan being proposed by House Speaker DiMasi appears to
be even more harmful. While details of the plan are not
yet fully available, its broad outlines indicate that
the private parties who want to get their hands on
public lands will not even have to pay for them! They
will acquire public land under a lease arrangement,
along with tax breaks and free infrastructure provided
by the taxpayers.

The DiMasi proposal is the “fast track auction law on
steroids.” Communities who need affordable housing and
open space will be sidelined while corporations take
control of public lands without having to buy them. We
need just and sustainable development, guided by the
community, using “smart growth” principles. The DiMasi
proposal seems designed to avoid this.

Speaker DiMasi says that he feels deeply concerned for
the “nightmare” endured by corporations waiting for
construction permits to be approved. But surely the
plight of families who cannot find housing in their
communities is equally worthy of sympathy. For many
Massachusetts residents, predatory overdevelopment is
the nightmare, and this new fast track permitting
proposal will only make the problem worse.

The latest fast track proposal claims to address
corporate complaints about “red tape.” But what
corporations call „red tape‰, local citizens call
“community rights”. Land use decisions are being made
under the fast-track process that can create permanent
problems for communities. Such hasty decisions
sacrifice unique, one-time opportunities to meet
community needs for affordable housing, greenspace
preservation or local business development. These
decisions should not be rammed through. They should be
decided through a democratic planning process involving
the people who will live with the permanent
consequences of the decisions.

The groundswell against the rushed transfer of public
land into private hands for private profit will
continue. Over 20 organizations have signed a petition
calling for full hearings, open public testimony and
recorded votes on any new policies affecting the
disposition of state land. Community groups, city
councils and boards of selectmen across the
Commonwealth are urged to join the call to repeal the
fast track auction law and reject this latest threat to
longstanding community rights to guide the development
of public land for the public good.

PO Box 644, Lexington, MA 02420 · 781-674-1377 ·
[email protected] · www.masschc.org


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