When we work regionally, we're working smart and accomplishing more for all residents.
I ran for State Representative for several reasons. I am a doer, not a talker. We need a State Representative who will actually take action on the issues that face us–the opioid epidemic; the broken state aid formula for our public school funding; our crumbling infrastructure; our need for good affordable housing; protection of our aquifer and our drinking water and our farms–rather than talking about doing something about them for 14 years.
As a founding member and the former volunteer Interim Executive Director and then Executive Director of the Young Peoples' Alliance of Carver, Inc. (YPAC)–the first and only federal non-profit 501 (c)(3) after-school middle-school youth organization in the Town of Carver–my goal and the goal of YPAC's Board of Directors was/is drug- and substance-abuse prevention through growing self-esteem in young people and helping them learn to make healthy choices and decisions.
Part of my job was to locate and apply for grant money to help fund YPAC's programs; I found, instead, very little state grant money for such programs that was not specifically targeted toward large cities or very specific populations. Towns like Carver, Wareham, Middleborough, and others in the region need funding for, and state grant money for, both addiction/treatment programs AND prevention programs. The more solid prevention programs we have in place, the fewer treatment/rehabilitation programs we will need. We need to increase state grant monies available to non-profits like YPAC that deal specifically with drug- and substance-abuse prevention in both cities AND non-cities and in working-family areas of our state.
We also need our lawmakers to support the Foundation Budget Review Commission's recommendation to fix the formula for state aid to cities and towns that does not work for us in the 2nd Plymouth District! We also need more state funding for toddler/pre-school reading programs at our public libraries and in our public schools. For the past 20 years, I've been the Volunteer Reader for our public library's toddler program. When the program's funding for supplies was cut, I continued to donate supplies and time to these children and have watched children grow into young adults who do well in school. An interest in reading leads to a curiosity about life, a thirst for knowledge, and, ultimately well-informed citizens who make healthy choices.
We need to see our Route 44 rotary corridor back in the state's Capital Plan; to make good, affordable housing a reality for our towns–respecting both the concerns of our towns and residents and respecting the people who need the affordable housing; and to work actively to protect our environment while improving our economy as I did successfully in the Town of Carver for 20 years.
In order to accomplish these goals, we need to work as a region and work hard to get these things done for all of us.
Our precious, valuable aquifer crosses seven town lines and so should we if we intend to preserve, protect, and profit from this unique resource. There's nothing else like it in Southeastern Massachusetts.
As Chair of the Plymouth Carver Aquifer Advisory Committee, I worked with a seven-town coalition that included Carver, Middleborough, and Wareham to protect this resource for ourselves and for future generations.
I know something about affordable housing having grown up poor.
The towns in our district need some affordable housing that the state recognizes as legitimate. At the same time, we need to respect the legitimate concerns of all residents and all neighborhoods, including our manufactured homes, as well as those who need affordable housing. As a former Planning Board member, I have a long history of success bringing quality affordable housing to Carver and respecting the concerns of all residents. While I was on the Planning Board, I spearheaded zoning that requires 10% of all townhouses, including duplexes and two-family dwellings, and 15% of all Planned Neighborhood Mixed-Use developments–a combination of single (family, multi-family, community, and commercial uses) to be affordable.
In addition, we require that those affordable units look exactly like their market-value cousins in a development so no one can tell from the outside which is the affordable unit. This type of zoning ensures several things:
This type of zoning also ensures that our Plymouth/Carver Aquifer–and our drinking water–are better protected than they would be if we got our affordable housing through a 40B.
Question: How does setting up our own affordable housing protect our drinking water?
Answer: Requiring a developer to conform to the town's regulations and bylaws–regulations and bylaws that were voted in by the residents of the Town and are in place to protect the town's resources like its drinking water–by requiring them to get permits from the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board means that towns can towns can use the tools in place for their specific towns to protect their specific resources. This means that towns can limit the amount of impervious surface, or pavement and buildings, used in a development. It means that towns can limit the distance between any water or wetlands resource areas and the development. And it means that towns can require erosion control, stormwater treatment on-site, and more! 40Bs allow developers to go around all these local controls.
When the Town of Carver sent its petition to the state legislature requesting that the state count 50% of the Town's manufactured homes as affordable units, we were doing two things. One, by using the 50% benchmark, we are respecting the owners and residents of all manufactured homes by making sure no one will need to do a search on their private financials to determine if their home is or is not affordable. 50% means, "It could be my house, it could be yours, who knows, who cares." And two, asking for 50% to be recognized by the state as affordable brings our percentage of affordable homes in Carver up to 15% (from our current 3%), thus ensuring that we do not have to endure more hostile 40B proposals.
Asking the state legislature to recognize 100% of a Town's manufactured homes as affordable is something that the Department of Revenue (DOR) would probably not do. And, it would mean a financial examination of each home to determine if that home was indeed "affordable" under DOR's definitions.
Having good affordable housing zoning–or including 50% of our manufactured homes as affordable–does not mean that we should stop creating more affordable housing! Our Towns still need affordable housing–it just needs to be done on the Towns' own terms and with respect for all residents.
My experience on the Carver/Plymouth/Wareham Task Force, that met with A. D. Makepeace Co. to discuss regional land development, as Chair of the Plymouth/Carver Aquifer Advisory Committee, and as a longtime Commissioner with Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development (SRPEDD), have convinced me that we must tackle planning issues on a regional rather than municipal level. To succeed, we must take the same regional approach at the State House and represent all towns in our district with a united front.