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November 22, 2005



Governor Mitt Romney today announced he has signed legislation that will reimburse communities for increased education costs incurred when families move into new moderately-priced housing built within designated smart growth districts.


In the past, some cities and towns have been reluctant to add family housing, citing the increased costs that follow such growth. The new law ensures that school aid rises with enrollment for housing production in smart growth districts.


“We need to build more housing to keep our state economically competitive. This bill acknowledges community costs that may be associated with increased housing production,” said Romney.


The measure approved by the Governor complements zoning reform legislation signed into law last year to provide financial incentives to communities that build new housing in smart growth overlay zoning districts near transit stations, town centers and other infrastructure-rich locations.


“By signing this legislation, Governor Romney is restating his support of smart growth policies, which will help us change the way we grow in Massachusetts by replacing sprawl with the kinds of vibrant and successful downtowns Massachusetts has known and loved since its founding,” said Douglas I. Foy, Secretary of the Office for Commonwealth Development.


“We applaud Governor Romney and the Legislature for this major step forward to provide positive incentives to cities and towns to adopt smart growth overlay zoning districts,” said Geoffrey C. Beckwith, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Communities want to grow their housing stock while ensuring that they will be able to deliver a full range of basic services to their new residents, including quality schooling - Chapter 40S addresses this key concern. Today is a very good day for local government and everyone concerned about sustainable growth and progress.”


Smart growth, or sustainable development, seeks to direct growth to areas where it makes the most sense: in and around city or town centers; near transit stations; or in areas that were previously developed for commercial, industrial or institutional uses. Growing in these locations allows cities and towns to take advantage of existing infrastructure and utilities.


“Massachusetts has continued to lose population over the past decade, in part due to skyrocketing housing prices,” said Senator Harriette L. Chandler. “Smart growth districts will provide much needed housing in a way that minimizes impacts on local communities. This new bill improves upon the smart growth law and will help ensure that future generations will be able to afford to stay right here in Massachusetts.”


“A lack of affordable housing is one of the greatest threats to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth, and this bill takes us a long way toward an effective solution,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation, which played an important role in the development of a comprehensive legislative affordable housing strategy. “This is a real tribute to the power of collaboration among businesses and civic leaders who designed an effective plan and among political leaders who turned it into law. Special thanks are in order to Governor Romney, Senate President Travaglini and Speaker DiMasi for this historic achievement.”


“The Commonwealth Housing Task Force is delighted that this significant new piece of legislation has been signed by Governor Romney,” said Ted Carman of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force, a diverse group brought together in 2003 to address the state’s housing crisis. “We believe it will open the opportunity for the construction of thousands of new moderately priced housing units in the years ahead, all in smart growth locations. We thank Governor Romney for his support, and President Travaglini and Speaker DiMasi for their shepherding of the bill through the Senate and the House.”


Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey applauded the bill signing and pledged to “continue to work with municipalities to provide incentives that encourage growth and development.”



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