Friday, August 2, 2002
MAGIC looks at affordable housing
When planner Donna Jacobs reported at the July 15 MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination) meeting that there "has been a groundswell of support for affordable housing" in Stow, the town she represents at MAGIC, other representatives agreed that "a creative solution to affordable housing" is needed in this area. This led to unanimous, enthusiastic support for a special meeting on affordable housing in November, to be hosted by MAGIC. Planning for this meeting is in its infancy, but it was discussed as an opportunity for community representatives to explore the areas where they needed expertise, and hear of achieved solutions to affordable housing and attendant problems. Alternative options for creating affordable housing include the town buying land and having the property under town management, gaining units in development with a comprehensive permit, new condo development or buydown of existing properties.
There will be more specific information about the proposed meeting in September, after the group has an opportunity to draw up a program. Because of the need and the interest, MAGIC anticipates widepread community participation in the special meeting. Residents interested in the meeting can let Carlisle MAGIC representatives Vivian Chaput and Tom Lane know of their interests.
· STOW is considering two pieces of agricultural land currently under Chapter 61A tax status, which gives the town first option to buy. One of the properties has over 100 acres and includes a major aquifer. If the town approves purchase, it will put out RFPs for affordable housing. The town is also considering buying existing housing stock and converting it to affordable units to be managed by the town. Stow is also talking about an RFP for a cell tower to be built on town property.
· BEDFORD, after three years of work on the position, now has a new planning director. They have drafts of a new comprehensive plan, available in their library and furnished to town offices. Feedback on the proposed plan is due by mid-August from both town departments and the community. This procedure is intended to provide an an opportunity for community representation in the development of the final plan.
Bedford also has an ongoing situation concerning trees in the Town Forest near Hanscom Field. Massport owns part of the forest and discussion concerns a need for runway space and clearing vs. a chronic standing water problem in the area. ConsCom has no authority over the water problem because is does not occur on wetland. Bedford is trying to negotiate a solution with Massport and Feltman says the group has been encouraged to identify conservation values rather than simply oppose all tree cutting. Bedford representative Gordon Feltman said the conservation commissions in the four towns have met together to deal jointly with Massport.
· LINCOLN has a cell tower proposal before the zoning board of appeals for a variance. The height of the tower is at issue, because the higher the tower the fewer towers will be needed. Lincoln is also experiencing its first comprehensive permit development. They are interested in the status of housing at Hanscom since 271 airforce personnel are eligible for affordable housing and Hanscom housing is counted in the Lincoln census.
· LEXINGTON representative Dick Canale reported that MassDevelopment has been charged with protecting Hanscom and that one of its ideas for Hanscom includes housing.
· BOXBOROUGH representative and present MAGIC chairman Don Wheeler reported that Cisco Systems, Inc. is seriously considering constucting two buildings and not using them, just to secure the continued advantages of its tax incentive plan it has with the town. CISCO also intends to file for three more buildings.
Wheeler commented that the towns need the money that growth generates, and added, "We have all lost control of our communities as these communities change and grow."
· CARLISLE was not represented at the meeting.
MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council), in partnership with other organizations, is launching a major civic process to develop a new growth strategy for the metro-Boston region. MAPC has requested input from the MAGIC sub-region on their perciption of the benefits of the collaborative regional process and the barriers to making it work. It has asked what changes would make the plan real and important to communities and how the sub-regions feel they should be involved.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito