Shall this city accept sections 3 to 7, inclusive of chapter 44B of the General Laws, as approved by its legislative body, a summary of which appears below?
Sections 3 to 7 of Chapter 44B of the General Laws of Massachusetts, also known as the Community Preservation Act (Act), establishes a dedicated funding source to enable cities and towns to (1) acquire open space, which includes land for park and recreational uses and the protection of public drinking water well fields, aquifers and recharge areas, wetlands, farm land, forests, marshes, beaches, scenic areas, wildlife preserves and other conservation areas, (2) acquire and restore historic buildings and sites, and (3) create affordable housing.
In Framingham, the funding source for these community preservation purposes will be a surcharge of 1%, on the annual property tax assessed on real property beginning in Fiscal Year 2022 (July 1, 2021) and by annual distributions made by the state from a trust fund created by the Act. The following will be exempt from the surcharge: (1) property owned and occupied as a domicile by any person who qualifies for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the City, as defined in Section 2 of said Act; (2) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property; and (3) $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of class three, commercial property, and class four, industrial property as defined in section 2A of said chapter 59. A taxpayer receiving a regular property tax abatement or exemption will also receive a pro rata reduction in surcharge.
A Community Preservation Committee will be established by ordinance to study community preservation resources, possibilities and needs and to make annual recommendations to the City Council on spending the funds. At least 10% of the funds for each fiscal year will be spent or reserved for later spending on each of the Act’s three community preservation purposes: (1) open space, (2) historic resources and (3) affordable housing.
Residential properties. To estimate the annual surcharge at 1%, all Residential Properties would add a $5 surcharge for every $500 in property taxes over $1,500 (based on the residential tax rate of $14.98/$1,000 of assessed value).
Surcharge Estimator for Residential Properties
The annual CPA surcharge for the average residential property, valued at approximately $430,000, is only $50, very modest in comparison to its property tax bill of $6,500. A property valued at $1 million pays a CPA surcharge of $135, compared to a tax bill of $15,000.
67% of Framingham residential properties will pay less than $50 each year.
Commercial & Industrial properties. Commercial and Industrial properties would be assessed $5 for every $500 in property taxes over $3,200 (based on the commercial & industrial tax rate of $32.30/$1,000 of assessed value).
Surcharge Estimator for Commercial & Industrial Properties
The following projects, listed by CPA project category, may be of particular interest to Framingham voters.
Open Space: 31,000 total acres protected
- Wayland (2017) secured permanent conservation restriction for 208 acres of Mainstone Farm with $12M from CPA funds reserve and $3M raised by Sudbury Valley Trustees. Mainstone Farm includes a working vegetable farm with acres of open land and a farm stand on Old Connecticut Path, plus 124 acres of woodlands.
- Ashland (2012) bonded $2.5M for 20 years to purchase Warren Woods as a mix of Historic Preservation and Open Space.
- Southborough (2015) appropriated $357K from CPA funds for a conservation restriction for Chestnut Hill Farm, protecting 123 acres in perpetuity. The Town worked in collaboration with SVT and ultimately The Trustees has taken over management of this property as a CSA and open space.
Outdoor Recreation: 2,500 total projects
- Waltham (2019) funded Gilmore Playground with $ 1.75 M in CPA funds and $390K in CDBG funds. The playground covers a full square block in a densely populated, diverse urban area. It was completely redone with recreation areas for all ages with a large open space for passive recreation.
- Randolph (2018) appropriated $50K of CPA funds to build three (3) new courts for the emerging sport of pickleball. A number of communities have followed in Randolph’s footsteps, including Belmont, Sudbury and Marshfield.
- Southborough (2017) used $200K of CPA funds to secure a conservation restriction on the St. Mark’s School golf course to ensure its long-term preservation as open space.
Historic Resources: 5,500 total projects
- Southborough (2016) committed $970 K in CPA funds to save the 165-year old Burnett-Garfield Manor from destruction and subdivision for new housing with a Historic Preservation Restriction.
- Salem (2019) CPC supported a number of historic preservation projects including appropriating $100K for the Salem Common bandstand renovation.
- Lexington (2014) initiated a major project to restore historic Cary Hall, built in 1928, using $8.24 M of Community Preservation reserve funds. The Hall has become a well-used community resource that hosts a major concert series. (Note: a possible parallel to Framingham’s Memorial Building).
Community Housing: 17,500 total units supported
- Ashland (2017) approved the use of $450K of CPA funds to set up an Affordable Housing Trust.
- Northborough (2014) used $700K of their reserve funds to convert the former senior center site to add four (4) units of affordable senior housing to be managed by the Northborough Housing Authority.
- Waltham (April 2020) allocated $1M in CPA funds for up to $4,000/year per family for emergency rental assistance in response to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on low-income families.
Acquisition and Creation
- Acquire private property as permanent open space
- Rehabilitate brownfields by converting to open space
- Raze a vacant, municipally-owned building to create a permanent open field
- Purchase conservation or agricultural preservation restrictions to permanently protect open space or farmland from future development
- Purchase easements to protect water supply recharge areas and watersheds
- Remove invasive plants to protect wildlife habitat and open space from harm
- Restore natural areas acquired with CPA funds to their natural state
- Plant and landscape a permanent open space created by removal of structure
- Purchase privately-owned outdoor recreation site for municipal use (e.g. golf course)
- Convert structures such as an inactive railroad bed to recreation use (e.g. as walking or bike trail)
- Convert underutilized municipal land to community gardens
- De-contaminate Industrial land & convert to municipal ball fields or playgrounds
- Install irrigation in a public park to prevent grass from dying
- Install new drainage in existing athletic fields to mitigate flooding damage
Rehabilitation and restoration of recreation lands acquired with CPA funds
- Restore walking trails to usable condition in forest land acquired with CPA funds
- Create recreational opportunity through brownfield restoration and/or redevelopment
- Acquire a historic resource or landscape
- Provide a match for federal or state grants
- Purchase preservation easement to protect building façades or historic features
- Restore historic buildings to reverse inappropriate alterations
- Restore archival documents
- Conduct historical or archeological surveys necessary for preservation projects
- Grants to acquire or preserve a historic property in private non-profit ownership (with a preservation restriction)
Rehabilitation and restoration
- Restore historic landscapes
- Restore municipal historic structures such as town halls, libraries, town commons, parks, or cemeteries
- Rehabilitate signage or markers at historic sites
- Adaptively reuse historic sites such as fire houses, town halls, mills, police stations, or schools for municipal use or community housing through rehabilitation
- Capital improvement to historic resources to comply with building codes
- Provide new utilities and other site work necessary for a preservation project
- Mitigate environmental contamination at historic sites
- Provide accessibility at historic sites, such as elevators, ramps, restrooms, etc.
- Convert non-residential properties to community housing
- Acquire land and/or buildings for new housing development, either rental or owned
- Provide grants or loans to create affordable housing
- Restore or mitigate contaminated sites for qualified housing development
- Acquire a preservation easement to limit occupancy of certain units in privately owned rental building to persons of low or moderate income
- Assist residents to meet homeownership costs, including, but not limited to down payments, assist with closing costs,
- Underwrite a revolving loan fund or guarantee fund for tenants who cannot afford first month, last month, and security deposit
- Fund a housing trust or a housing authority to support a specific affordable housing initiative
- Provide matching funds for various state and federal housing programs
Rehabilitation and restoration of Community Housing created using CPA funds
- Make site improvements such a water / sewer connections or other underground utilities associated with creation of affordable housing
- Rehabilitate or restore existing public or private property being converted to affordable housing units in mixed income residential environment
Community Preservation Coalition is a statewide non-profit organization that assists Massachusetts communities that are considering adopting CPA. Its website includes extensive information about the benefits that CPA has created for cities and towns since 2001. Visit them at www.communitypreservation.org.