Mass Initiatives & Directives:

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As open space is being lost to development at an alarming rate of over 44 acres per day in Massachusetts, the burden upon communities has often been overwhelming just to play "catch-up" with the needed services that arrive in tandem with high growth. Services such as new schools or renovations, improved roads, more public safety personnel are but a few of the increased costs associated with development. At the same time, the loss of these often beautiful areas of open space, farm lands and forests impact the very beauty that make so many of our New England communities unique. It can also threaten rare or endangered wildlife species, watersheds, air quality, and much more. It is with these thoughts in mind that the State has come forward with several initiatives to restore or preserve our environment:

1. Executive Order 418  - The buildout analyses for all 351 communities within the State accomplished by July 2001 based upon the GIS mapping. Grafton stands at a 50% buildout with possible increased population to well over 28,000 people (roughly double present population). This is a fundamental tool to guide more appropriate planning and to address issues of shared resources (such as the shared aquifer for Franklin and Medway). Note: If our affordable housing does not meet the 10% minimum, a much higher population density could ensue.

2. Creation of the Community Preservation Act on September 14, 2000. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization, called this one of the 7 best efforts to combat the effects of sprawl.

3. Created the Commonwealth's first bioreserve and "biodiversity Days" where over 15,000 citizens across the Commonwealth documented over 2800 species of animals and plants. Grafton has participated with this and the effort to save the salamanders as they cross roadways in the Spring. Related sites: Heritage - Restore

4. Launched a Mercury Elimination Strategy - Grafton's Board of Health has long offered a switch of mercury thermometers for more benign thermometers.

5. Land Conservation Strategies including, but not limited to 200,000 acres of Open Space to be purchased by Executive Office of Environmental Affairs as directed by Cellucci-Swift Administration by Year 2010. Some State funds were used with the purchase of the Hennessey 124 acres between Adams Road and Fay Mountain Road in Grafton that will be used for passive recreation with a bird habitat.

6. Offers yearly update of progress/setbacks via State of Environment Update booklets 2000, 2001....

7. Studying regional concepts for planning so as to create cooperation on transit, land use, educational, etc. services. Although the CMRPC is helpful, the individual zoning by-laws that vary from town to town might be less helpful than a regional approach. A co-operative effort that is recently underway is the regional library to be shared by Upton and Mendon, both small communities with needs for better libraries, but without the funds to support a library in each community.

8. Area of Critical Environmental Concern - Special land areas that follow unique criteria receive a special land designation from the EOEA by Secretary Robert Durand. Parts of Grafton, Upton and Hopkinton received this special designation recently.

9. The Greenway Projects - Linkages of land throughout communities that create corridors for wildlife habitat, bike paths and so much more. Grafton's recent Citizen of the Year Ken Crater is currently working on this project along with a philanthropically oriented farm to raise vegetables for the Food Bank.

10. Lakes and Ponds Watershed Strategy - an initiative released in January 2001 to build partnerships for protection through the Mass Watershed Initiative (MWI). Drinking water protection resources. Water withdrawal over 100,000 GPD. Drinking water - more information. Interesting case regarding watershed protection.

11. Environmental Justice Draft Policy - To affect change via brownfield cleanups, air pollution control and other priorities by the creation of the Mass Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.

12. Created Municipal Harbor Plan for waterfront improvement in seven cities and towns on the coast. Related sites: Buzzards Bay, Massbays and Clean Vessels Act

Affordable Housing:

At the same time, this high rate of growth throughout the Commonwealth's communities has spawned primarily affluent homes. The 1969 mandate, Chapter 40B, holding each city or town responsible for maintaining or creating 10% of its homes as "affordable" has diminished the percentages of affordable housing even further  in most communities.

Preservation:  

Relative to this high growth again is the need to preserve our Commonwealth's history in each community which not only can increase tourism, which is expected to be the largest economic force throughout the Blackstone Valley by 2010, but can also offer an understanding of our unique heritage as the home to the origins of American liberty. As major funding resources have revitalized the Blackstone River and many efforts continue in Worcester and throughout the Valley within Massachusetts and Rhode Island towards this success, it is particularly crucial to maintain the buildings or special places which represent so much to so many.

2001 Super Summit Findings

 

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