What a shame. One can only wonder where we go from here. There is a real media void in our corner of the Blackstone Valley area. And just in time for campaign season and a host of important decisions. View Comment
Good for Senator Moore. This is how government *should* work: pass legislation aimed at reducing a large problem, and don't be so partisan or ideological such that you can't revisit it in the future to make common sense changes to make the legislation more effective for all involved.
Nice work. View Comment
First rule in campaign spending: Never leave money in your campaign coffers when you're challenging an incumbent. It's like leaving your golf puts short instead of long. Sure, you're close to the hole, but you were never going to make the put playing that way. Always miss long.
Same goes with campaigning. You'd feel great if you finished the campaign in the black by a hundred grand. Unless, of course, you lost. And the difference between winning and losing was the extra $150K you didn't spend on that last advertisement. Then you'd just be...well... a loser. View Comment
If you can demonstrate that there are safety concerns with this location or this particular operator that are not going to be addressed by the enforcement of federal regulations, then you may have something you can argue in court.
But to be frank with you... there isn't a city or town in the country that would be excited that propane storage tanks are going up at a local rail facility. And at the same time, the entire country has an interest in moving this stuff from point A to point B. Which is why we have federal regulations to preempt local concerns. Otherwise the stuff couldn't go anywhere. And don't get me wrong, I'm not excited about it either. I'm just saying the burden that the town carries here is a tough one, legally, and other cases like this one have not turned out favorably for the locality. View Comment
I may be a simple caveman attorney, but even I know that Section 20106 of the Federal Railroad Safety Act (FRSA) contains an express preemption provision setting forth that state regulation of railroad safety and security is prohibited unless: (1) the Secretary of Transportation (or his designate) has not yet regulated the subject matter of the state regulation; or (2) the state regulation is: (a) necessary to eliminate an essentially local safety or security hazard, (b) is not incompatible with federal law, and (c) does not unreasonably burden interstate commerce.
Seems to me that the town is going to have to demonstrate that federal regulations are going to be insufficient to ensure the safe handling of hazardous (read: explosive) materials in Grafton. Tough sell, IMHO. View Comment
I don't know about anyone else, but I'd like to see the scorecard. It's super when pro-business organizations recognize excellence in civil servants, but troubling when that same organization opposes paid family leave, mandated sick days, and amending the Massachusetts Wage & Hour statute to eliminate treble damages provisions for violators.
Growing and maintaining a superior economy takes both the fostering of a strong climate for business, but also ensuring that workers are protected in times of emergency and that they can rely on a regular paycheck. View Comment
"Maybe it's because they were waiting for a new library to be built, I don't know."
Exactly my point. Without a prioritized list of capital improvement projects with considerations of funding sources, how would you ever be able to determine, on a year to year basis, whether you should spend money to fix something old and decaying, or leave it because it will soon be replaced.
We need data-driven performance management like the CitiStat model being used in cities like Somerville and Newton.
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/open-government/report/2007/04/23/2911/the-citistat-model-how-data-driven-government-can-increase-efficiency-and-effectiveness/ View Comment
You almost had me.
If this were a case where resources really were diverted from a real emergency to the detriment of someone else's life, I could see your point.
But that didn't happen.
As a taxpayer, I'd rather pay more for services than have the government second guess whether I was in a real emergency after the fact, and spend time in the court's fighting their determination that I could have done more to protect myself.
NH has a law (I believe) that hikers in the White Mountains who stray from the beaten path will have to reimburse the state for rescue efforts once they're found. That I don't mind. There is a clearly defined demarcation between acceptable behavior and that which will cost you money. Here? Not so much. View Comment
"'Why didn’t we reallocate $10,000 a year to maintenance?' he asked."
The Town needs a long-term capital improvement plan that prioritizes risk and the projects with most need, rather than lurching from crisis to crisis. View Comment
I don't mean to be flippant, but I hear this argument all the time as it pertains to missing people (where the missing people are at some fault of their own for being missing to begin with), and I wonder: How much money is actually "wasted"?
The ATVs and helicopters are already purchased assets. Was extra manpower called in, or were people already on duty simply performing the task for which they were hired? Isn't there a budget for this sort of thing? How are these services paid for?
Again, I'm really wondering. View Comment
Bubbly, with all due respect, you're making quite a few incorrect assumptions in there that have little to do with affordable housing.
First of all, if you don't consider affordable housing a priority there is probably little I can say to make you feel differently. Seems like you're looking for the status quo. That's fine. But while we preserve the status quo and keep empty, over-grown lots for neighbors to dump leaves in, you should know that the number of families in Grafton living in poverty continues to climb. The number of older folks who are unable to grow old in the homes they purchased years ago continues to climb. And vacant lots do nothing for our tax base. Rather than contribute to new growth, permitting fees, and property taxes, you have two lots just sitting there.
In fact, it's just my own personal opinion, but wanting a lot to remain vacant for the sake of being vacant, or because that's how it was in 1970, comes off as selfish when you consider that there are families who could use the help. Especially in this economy.
It also does nothing to help get us out from under 40B. How does that affect your pocket? Glad you asked! Communities that lose control over their own development lose control over their school population. About 55% of your tax dollars go to schools, right? What happens when you need additional classroom space as a result of an influx of kids you cannot control? Take a wild guess.
Additionally, "re-assessing" all of the properties in town doesn't address the problem. What we're talking about it "affordability" as measured by income and percentage of income devoted to housing. For instance, in order to qualify for most affordable housing programs, an applicant can generally earn no more that 80% of the median income for that area, and the mortgage payments on the subject property cannot exceed 30% of their net monthly take home. So, market rate numbers matter. Have values decreased since 2005? Probably. But overall, you're still way up over 10-20 years ago.
"Bubbly" - Thanks for the heads up. On behalf of the Affordable Housing Trust, I assure you we will explore every option available to us to create more affordable housing (no real need to put quotes around the word "affordable", right?).
Based on the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development’s most recent data on the Chapter 40B Subsidized Housing Inventory, Grafton has approximately 7,160 year-round housing units (a sizable increase from the pre-2010 level of 5,820 units), of which 313 can be counted as affordable, representing 4.3% (down from the 5.27% level before 2010 due to housing growth) of the year-round housing stock. Grafton is therefore vulnerable to losing control over housing development through Chapter 40B comprehensive permit applications. To meet the 10% standard, at least 716 of the existing units would have to be “affordable” based on the state’s definition, requiring more than 400 additional housing units to be converted to affordable ones to meet the 10% standard.
So, obviously the Town (and not just the AHT) is going to have to move in multiple directions at the same time in order to create, preserve and maintain affordable housing in Grafton. Rest assured, then, it will not just be the residents of Suzanne Terrace who will be "burdened" with affordable housing (I put "burden" in quotes because it is in no way, shape or form a "burden"). View Comment
I want to thank the Planning Board for their time and attention at last night's hearing, and for fully grasping the facts and circumstances surrounding not only this project, but the predicament that Grafton finds itself in regarding affordable housing.
To be clear, this is not a choice between building a park and building a house. This is very much a choice between furthering efforts to come into compliance with Chapter 40B and maintaining the status quo.
Here are the facts:
40 years ago, the property was deeded to the Town with reference on the subdivision plan (literally, a hand-written notation on the side of the plan) that the lots in question were to be reserved for a play area and not to be built upon unless released by the Planning Board. That was in 1968. Since 1968, not a finger has been lifted to turn those lots into play areas. Since then, the subdivision notation has largely been forgotten about by all but the longest of long-time neighborhood residents.
Now, forty-four years and no attempts to build a park later, the Grafton Affordable Housing Trust has identified these lots as potentially suitable for an affordable housing unit.
Why the unit and why now? In 2006, Grafton drafted its Affordable Housing Plan. As the plan sets forth, there are approximately 6,000 year round housing units in Grafton. Pursuant to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Act, Chapter 40B, unless a city or town has 10% of its housing stock designated as affordable housing, developers can by-pass local zoning regulations and build large-scale, dense housing developments just about anywhere they want. Grafton presently has approximately 5.27% of its housing stock designated as “affordable”. We need 300 more units to come into compliance with chapter 40B.
Why do you care? Playgrounds are great for kids and everything, but you know what is even better for them? A community that carefully plans for the future and pays attention to its 40B requirements. When developers come in an plan massive housing complexes and ignore our zoning regulations, these developments burden schools. They burden roads. They burden the tax base. Ask residents of Hingham about the 177-unit Avalon Bay complex that a developer is planning. Ask the residents of Newton about the 300 plus unit Avalon Bay complex off of Needham Street (not unlike our Worcester street). Ask those residents about the resulting burden on schools, roads and services. And then ask them if given the choice between eliminating that burden and building a playground, which they'd choose. So, while parks are awesome, classrooms that are not over-crowded and streets that are not filled with traffic are even better.
About the “playground” - there is no playground. Not only is there not a playground in fact, there is no playground conceptually. I'd say that it is "imaginary" right now, but it lacks even imagination. There are no plans for a playground and, more importantly, no money to develop one. This is NOT a choice between a playground and a home. This is a choice between the status quo (a vacant lot) and building affordable housing. And not just because it’s the law, but because affordable housing is the right thing to do. View Comment