Out of Control Policy Blog

Massachusetts Munis Wary of State Smart Growth Plan

Massachusetts is dangling cash in front of its cities and towns to entice them to adopt "smart growth" policies, but they are not biting:

    The state's latest strategy to build more affordable housing and limit sprawl is drawing little enthusiasm [...] according to a new report and a survey of town and city planners.

    . . . .

    The most common concern cited in interviews with town planners and in the Metropolitan Area Planning Council report was the lack of permanent new funding for additional schoolchildren, expected as families fill the housing units. Another concern was the requirement for dense development, which was often described as especially out of character with suburban communities. Local leaders also balked at details such as a provision that towns return money if the housing is not built, and they were wary of the new streamlined approval process.

    . . . .

    "I have a real problem with the mandated densities for any community over 10,000 in population," said Kathleen B. Bartolini, director of planning and economic development for Framingham. "I also believe in home rule and do not think we need to give [the state] another layer of review and approval over our zoning. I believe in density and general housing production to help decrease housing costs -- supply and demand -- but this is too superficial to work well as a land-use tool."

It's refreshing to hear from planners skeptical of top-down planning 'solutions' and who are willing to take a stand for local control of land use decision-making. If only the American Planning Association would take note and halt its crusade to encourage states to adopt new "smart growth" legislation, with the ultimate end of expanding state control over local land use.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting take on this from the libertarian blog, The Modern American.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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