Legislature Enacts Community Preservation Act (MA), Hailed by the Trust for Public Land

Boston, MA: The Massachusetts Legislature has enacted an amended version of the Community Preservation Act (House Bill 5370). The bill will grant cities and towns the right to raise their own taxes in order to conserve land, preserve historic sites, and create affordable housing-and will provide significant matching funds as an incentive for them to do so.

“This is truly a momentous day,” said Whitney Hatch, regional director of the Trust for Public Land. “The House and Senate have shown great perseverance in taking up the Community Preservation Act during their informal session, after their original version of the bill was sent back by Governor Cellucci in August. We applaud the Legislature-and especially the committee chairs, Representative John Rogers and Senator Marion Walsh-for their efforts to leave a lasting natural and cultural legacy for future generations of Massachusetts residents.”

To fund the state’s matching program, the Community Preservation Act imposes new fees on filings at the registry of deeds and lands court. Based on fees paid to the registry last year, this increase is expected to generate roughly $26 million per year-all of which will be directed to participating communities.

In order for a municipality to qualify for these matching funds, Town meeting or City Council must first vote to place a property tax surcharge of no more than 3 percent on the ballot. Residents in that community must then vote to approve it. A minimum of 10 percent of the annual revenues raised through the surcharge must be used for each of three core community concerns: land protection, historic preservation, and affordable housing. The remaining 70 percent can be allocated for any combination of these three uses.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting
land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide. For more information, contact their Boston office at (617) 367-6200 or visit them on the Web at www.tpl.org