The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 6, 2002


MAGIC hears alternatives to uncontrolled sprawl

MAGIC (Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal coordination) examined linking land use and transportation as an alternative to buildout at its November meeting, which was held in the Carlisle Town Hall. While towns aleady see the impact of growth, the projected buildout figures for the communities, when all available land is developed, are staggering.

Effect on transportation studied

Representatives of MAGIC towns listen to a presentation by Barbara Lucas. (Photo by Midge Eliassen)
Barbara Lucas, chief planner for MAPC (Metropolitan Area Planning Council), presented preliminary data from a federally-funded study she is conducting on the impact of land use on existing and potential transportation systems. The study has been going on for a year and she expects that it will be completed in four to six months. Lucas stated at the outset that "this is not an answer-oriented presentation, this is the future." The intent of her research is "to indicate the impact and magnitude of impact [of growth] and to encourage communities to think about alternatives to the inevitable sprawl that accompanies unplanned development."

Her projected figures for towns in the I-495 area show that at buildout the area can expect 668 new classrooms, at a cost of almost $78 million; 346 new parking spaces, which translates into 4-l/2 square miles of asphalt; 442 miles of new roads in residential areas; and consumption of 14-1/2 million gallons of water per day. The workforce in the Northwest area will grow from 28,969 to 109,939. This is nearly a 300% increase, with some towns showing exceptional growth, including Hudson by 345% and Boxborough by 480%.

School expansions, clogged highways and new developments are conditions already familiar to residents of MAGIC towns. Lucas's thesis is that land-use patterns affect transportation services. Our alternatives are to build more roads or develop plans for future land use that utilize existing transportation systems. She looked at mixed use of land near existing and planned transportation resources. When figures for employment and population were balanced in her model, millions of dollars a day were saved in commuter travel. The planned development lessened traffic with a 48% decrease in CO2 emissions, smog decreased 21% and other pollutants dropped by significant levels. In a telephone interview this week, Lucas said she hopes the study will create a dialogue about different kinds of land-use considerations. One impact of the study can be making better-informed decisions about the transit program and land use that supports its utilization.

Criteria for transportation projects

Lucas made a separate presentation on criteria that have been developed for Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) decisions. These criteria have been developed for the 101 cities and towns in MPO's (Metropolitan Planning Office) oversight to make a more objective basis for approving highway projects, and through this process achieving a more equitable distribution of both federal and state funds.

Community reports

Cell tower applications and comprehensive permit applications continue to dominate community reports, with the interesting development that several towns are currently looking at the possibility of erecting cell towers on town land and reaping income for a currently stressed town treasury. Several towns reported Town Meeting action on their Community Preservation Act (CPA) projects, with a jubilant Bedford representative reporting that Bedford received $789,000 from the state CPA fund last year.

Housing workshop Dec.12

A workshop oriented for local officals and staff, planners, housing committees and others with an interest in housing is scheduled to take place at the Maynard Town Building on Thursday, December 12, from 8:30 a.m. until noon. The agenda will include discussion of developing a plan and building support, using town-owned land, creating a condo buydown program, ensuring long-term affordability, joining a consortium, developing 40B guidelines and using the Community Preservation Act for housing. Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Interested persons should contact Judy Alland at MAPC by December 9 for reservations or information, 1-617- 451-2770, or

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito