40B strategies – ideas I had to help meet the 10% threshold

Over the twelve years that I have been a selectman, I have, of course, recognized the issues that flow from  G. L. c. 40B and the 40B developments I saw effecting other towns, so I have had possible solutions percolating in my mind.  Also, I feel that as a matter of essential justice, that it is correct and proper for our society to provide affordable housing.  Given those starting points, I have made several suggestions over the years about ways for Medfield to make progress on meeting the 10% affordable housing threshold, that exempts towns from unwanted 40B developments.

  • The first proposal came from what I believe may have been at the first Massachusetts Municipal Association annual convention I attended, and I did not learn about the MMA for several years after becoming a selectman, so maybe around 2003 or 2004.  The Falmouth Housing Authority’s director was a presenter at that first MMA meeting I attended, and he told about Falmouth’s planned and systematic conversion of existing housing into affordable housing.  When the proper housing became available, Falmouth would buy it and convert it into affordable housing.  This technique has the benefit of creating affordable housing without changing the impacts on and/or densities of existing neighborhoods.  When I presented that idea to my colleagues, I specifically recall suggesting that the Town of Medfield should be buying every unit at Medfield Gardens that came on the market, in an effort do what we could to meet our 10% affordable housing threshold.  Another time when I saw a newspaper ad offering for sale a six unit property on Green Street (almost at North Street), I suggested that the town buy it to convert to affordable housing.  Converting existing housing makes for a long road to get us over 10%, unless most of Medfield Gardens suddenly became available, but such a plan could be part of a larger strategy.
  • Second, there is vacant land next to Tilden Village, which I understand is controlled by the Medfield Housing Authority.  I suggested that the town should sponsor building more elderly housing on that location.  Medfield can certainly use more elderly housing, and the municipal budget impacts would be minimal.  Where the facilities at Tilden Village already exist, for the new construction there would be savings from not having to construct what already exists there – i.e. no need for an additional administrative office and community meeting room.  I was told that the then Medfield Housing Authority was not interested in doing so.
  • The third proposal I made was for the town to build affordable housing on other town owned land.  The town itself owns parcels all over town.

There was no interest expressed in pursuing any of these ideas.


2 responses to “40B strategies – ideas I had to help meet the 10% threshold

  1. As Town Citizens, how do we make the Town we live in and pay taxes to interested in projects we believe have merit?


  2. Carolyn,
    Thanks for your question. I am not quite sure what you are asking, but let me take a stab at answering what I think you are asking, and you can tell me how I did.

    In general, the town undertakes initiatives on its own for things it decides on its own are important, but the Board of Selectmen also responds to input from its citizens when the citizens tell them that something is important to them and needs to be dealt with.

    I have witnessed that change in town often requires a successful political process for the change to happen, and that change itself does not always happen just because I happen to think that the change I suggest is a good idea. Ideas may be good, but without the needed buy in by the right constituencies, things may just not move forward.

    Residents can always push for the changes they want, by mobilizing support, and using the political processes that exist.

    Like right at this instance, there has been so much interest in how the town should respond to the proposed West Street 40B projects, I bet the Board of Selectmen would respond favorable to appointing a citizen study committee, tasked to explore options and recommend back to the Board of Selectmen on how the town should proceed with respect to the issues around affordable housing in town – they could define the options, and recommend the solutions. I certainly would favor doing so, and in fact I will recommend it at our next meeting of the Board of Selectmen..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s