Every year, each of MAPC’s eight subregions convenes a legislative breakfast, inviting local officials and municipal staff to hear from and ask questions of their state representatives and senators over breakfast food and coffee. The South West Advisory Planning Committee (SWAP) congregated for its annual breakfast on the morning of Friday, Feb. 2 at the Thayer Homestead in Medway. MAPC staff, Rep. Jeffrey Roy, Rep. Brian Murray, and Rep. David Paul Linsky each addressed a group of about 30 breakfast attendees and took the opportunity to listen to and address local concerns.
The SWAP subregion consists of members representing 10 communities – Bellingham, Dover, Franklin, Hopkinton, Medway, Milford, Millis, Norfolk, Sherborn, and Wrentham.
To kick off the breakfast, MAPC Government Affairs Manager Lizzi Weyant spoke about MAPC’s legislative priorities, which include zoning reform, regional ballot initiatives, Community Preservation Act funding, and District Local Technical Assistance. A full list of legislative priorities can be viewed here.
- Zoning Reform and Housing Choice: MAPC hopes that this year, the Massachusetts Legislature will pass a zoning reform bill that streamlines the zoning process, allows new zoning techniques for municipalities, and authorizes strong incentives for housing development, protecting open space, and creating vibrant and walkable municipal centers.
- Regional Ballot Initiatives – Allowing regional ballot initiatives would allow citizens of municipalities to vote to raise money locally to spend on local transportation projects, which could be a piece of the puzzle to solving local transportation problems.
- Community Preservation Act – MAPC put together an info sheet on CPA funding and projects in the SWAP region, which can be seen here.
- District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) – DLTA funds are distributed among the states’ 13 regional planning agencies, including MAPC, to provide cities and towns with technical assistance and funds many of MAPC’s projects. In SWAP, 2017 projects included economic development planning in Bellingham and Norfolk, a town center zoning project in Wrentham, a study on small housing typologies and their zoning implications, and 495 site preparedness program assistance. DLTA has been level-funded for the past five years at $2.8 million and MAPC is advocating for an increase to $3.4 million this year.
The three legislators followed Lizzi Weyant’s remarks with comments on these and other issues important to their districts, and answered questions from the assembled community members. Representatives Murray, Roy, and Linsky discussed their advocacy for local bills, zoning, workforce training, and rail trails. SWAP members asked about and commented on the gas tax, transportation funding flowing down to cities and towns, the impact of affordable housing projects on communities, local aid, and political updates at the State House.
MAPC would like to thank Representatives Murray, Roy, and Linsky for taking the time to discuss local concerns with SWAP members and everyone who came out for the event!
Read all the materials from the meeting below: