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Massachusetts' Community Preservation Act

This bill allows communities to raise and appropriate money designated for their own local open space, affordable housing and historic preservation projects.

After fifteen years of planning, hearings and negotiation, a Statewide Community Preservation Act Conference held on February 10th explained the bill to four hundred residents who came to understand this unique piece of legislation. In a nutshell the bill allows communities to raise and appropriate money designated for their own local open space, affordable housing and historic preservation projects. A surcharge of 1-3% is allowed making cities and towns eligible for state matching funds.

The Community Preservation Act is statewide enabling legislation to allow cities and towns to exercise control over local planning decisions. This legislation strengthens and empowers Massachusetts communities:

  • All decisions are local
  • Local people must vote by ballot to adopt this.
  • Local legislatures must appoint a committee of local people to draw up plans for use of the funds
  • These plans are subject to local comment and approval
  • If they don’t feel it is working as they expected, local people can vote it out.

The Community Preservation Act provides new funding sources which can be used to address three core community concerns:

  • Acquisition and preservation of open space
  • Creation and support of affordable housing
  • Acquisition and preservation of historic buildings and landscapes used for each three core community concerns. The remaining 70% can be allocated for any combination of the allowed uses. This gives each community the opportunity to determine its priorities, plan for its future, and have the funds to make those plans happen.

Property taxes traditionally fund the day-to-day operating needs of safety, health, schools, roads, maintenance. - and more. But, currently, there does not exist a steady funding source for preserving and improving a community’s infrastructure. The Community Preservation Act can give a community the funds needed to control its future.
How does it help preserve?

For Housing
Your local Community Preservation Committee must recommend wherever possible , the reuse of existing buildings or construction of new buildings on previously developed sites. Housing can be for individuals or families (including seniors) of low income ( less than 80% of the area wide median) or moderate income (less than 100% of he areawide median)

For Open Space
Your Community Funds may be used to purchase land, easements or restrictions to protect such things as water supply areas, agricultural, forest or coastal lands, inland water frontage, wildlife habitat, preserves and scenic vistas. Land can also be acquired for active and passive recreation, community gardens, trails noncommercial sports or land for use as a park, playground or athletic field.

For Historic Preservation
If buildings or real property have been determined by the local historic preservation commission to be significant in the history, archaeology, architecture or culture of a city or town, preservation funds can be used to acquire, preserve or restore them. Likewise if the property is listed or eligible for listing on the state or national Register of Historic Places, it also qualifies.

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