Friday, May 19, 2000
Maps will help towns to make projections and determine growth impact
"Build-out analysis is a methodology for communities looking to the future," according to Mark Racicot of the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission in his presentation to the Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) at their meeting on May 11 in Lincoln.
Maps chart town growth
The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, through the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), is providing build-out maps for each town and has already completed maps of four MAGIC towns. These maps have build-out data based on 1990 figures. They show developed areas in pink, a new development in red, and so on, with conservation land, land that can be developed and River's Act Boundaries shown in other colors. Aerial photos flesh out computer-generated data. The maps can then be used as a planning tool to generate predictions under different scenarios. Existing data on school population, water use, trash and so forth extend the usefulness of the system as a predictor.
If the four MAGIC towns already studied were to grow as their laws allow, for example, Hudson could have 4,100 more people and could generate 2,100 more tons of solid waste annually; Stow could see 67 percent more people, including 70 percent more school children; Acton could increase daily water use by almost 260,000 gallons and Lincoln could have 326 more households, based on data from MAPC.
Using build-out analysis, an aggregate map can be produced for communities looking at specific issues such as water availability, senior housing and so on.
Funds available for planning housing
Executive Order 418 was issued in January to increase the housing supply for the increase in population density; planners at the meeting considered 418 "a critical document." Communities that have had build-out analysis done will be eligible for funding by July 1 and other communities will become eligible as their maps become available. The adoption of the new Open Space and Recreation plan at Carlisle's Town Meeting makes Carlisle eligible to apply. Eligibility requirements for each of the next four years get more restrictive, e.g., by the fourth year, a town will have to have housing either built or under construction to be eligible for funds. Regional development plans are encouraged. Money comes from the state to the regional planning group to the community and the contracts are awarded by MAPC.
The state has been slow in publishing standards for Executive Order 418 eligibility and procedural information for towns that wish to apply. A "Community Development Guidebook" is slated for release between now and the beginning of July.
Other regional news
· Wireless communication facilities are an issue for almost every town. According to a Lincoln representative, "wherever we provided sites isn't where they wanted to put the tower" and a Stow resident, whose town is currently in court over a tower site, reminded the group that "they sue." The struggle is ongoing in the legislature, and MAGIC members were advised "to let the legislature know how you feel about it."
· Brookside Shops, the proposed development on Route 2A, will have an environmental review before the state's final recommendation. The Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) agreed that more information is needed on the issues, such as traffic problems, that were raised at a recent MAGIC meeting about the development.
· Transportation funds are uncertain. The Metropolitan Planning Office is struggling with projects to go on this year's Transportation Improvement Program list. Officials had thought $120 million would be available, with 80 million for bridges and 40 million for local projects. Then, it was announced that only $40 million was available. The final list of approved transportation projects which will receive funding has not been released.
The state's roads and bridges program is tied into funding for the downtown central artery, with a May 19 deadline for the governor to file on the matter. One representative saw the situation as "an opportunity to change what is now a broken system."
· The congested intersection study being conducted by the Central Transportation Planning Staff has asked communities to indicate six to eight locations that need to be included. The budget allows only four to six locations and Susan Lincoln, who presented the information to MAGIC, indicated she wished to get going before school was out and traffic patterns changed.
Carlisle was not represented at MAGIC's May 11 meeting. The Mosquito reporter was asked to present current news from the town and subsequently reported to the town manager on urgent current issues. Other towns reported as follows:
· Bedford received a grant for 40 units at the Veterans Administration and 110 units at the Alzheimer Center.
· Lexington representative Richard Canale said construction has started on Routes 2A from 128 to Minuteman Science-Technology High School and "it's as bad as we thought." The town has started construction of a water treatment plant on the river. Lexington and the three other towns most directly affected by the Hanscom air traffic continue to be involved in that issue.
· Stow is in court over wireless towers and is looking towards developing 61 assisted-living units.
· Lincoln continues to look for improvements at Crosby's Corner and to be involved in problems caused by Hanscom development. The town is waiting to learn if they will build a proposed water treatment plan.
· Gordon Feltman reported that Boxborough is looking at a $15-18 million junior high school construction project, a $7.5 million public works facility and an $8.5 million town center.
· Hudson's high school is 30 years old and will cost $30 million to revamp.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito