State Announces Land Use Planning Assistance Grants

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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration announced $1,152,500 in grants for 29 projects to improve municipal land use planning and development through the Planning Assistance Grant Program. 
 
Through this program, the Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) provides municipalities funding to undertake public processes and hire technical expertise to improve their land-use practices, diversify housing choices, mitigate and prepare for climate change impacts, and conserve and sustainably develop land.
 
"Our Administration is committed to helping communities build more housing while protecting natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," Governor Charlie Baker said. "These grants help municipalities update their zoning and other land-use regulations to make the Commonwealth a more resilient, sustainable and affordable place to live and raise a family."
 
The Planning Assistance Grant Program is part of an effort to encourage municipalities to implement land-use regulations that are consistent with the Baker Administration's land conservation and development objectives including reduction of land, energy, and natural resource consumption, provision of sufficient and diverse housing, and mitigation of and preparation for climate change.  The program is also part of the technical assistance offered to communities in support of the Baker-Polito Administration's Housing Choice Initiative.
 
"Local zoning, subdivision, and other land-use regulations provide the framework for future development, and these grants help cities and towns achieve a better result," EEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said. "Under the administration's leadership, we are helping communities update and enhance their regulations so that they can grow in ways that reduce land, natural resource, and energy consumption."
 
The grants are awarded to the Commonwealth's municipalities and Regional Planning Agencies acting on their behalf to support their efforts to plan, regulate, and act to conserve and develop land consistent with the Massachusetts' Sustainable Development Principles.
 
The following communities received grants:
 

Applicant

Municipality

Project

Grant Award

Adams

Adams

Housing Package: 40R, ADU, Housing Choice Zoning Measures, plus Home Occupations

$45,000

Athol

Athol

Downtown Rezoning

$40,000

Barre

Barre

Natural Resource Protection, Flexible Frontage, & ADU Zoning Amendments

$6,375

Beverly

Beverly

ADU Ordinance

$45,000

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

 

Boylston

Master Plan: Housing, Land Use, & Econ. Dev. Elements

$40,000

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

Hopedale

Master Plan: Natural & Cultural Resources & Open Space & Recreation elements plus zoning review

$32,500

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

Mendon

Master Plan: Housing, Land Use, & Econ. Dev. Elements

$33,000

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

Rutland

Master Plan: Housing, Land Use, & Econ. Dev. Elements

$40,000

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

Spencer

Housing Production Plan

$15,875

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

Uxbridge

Reimagining Main Street

$40,000

Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC)

CMRPC Region

Land Use for Regional Resilience

$55,000

Easthampton

Easthampton

Parking Utilization Study; Sale/Reuse of 3 municipal buildings

$21,000

Great Barrington

Great Barrington

Food System Plan for Climate Resilience

$10,000

Hull

Hull

Housing Production Plan

$27,050

Lincoln

Lincoln

Equitable TOD Zoning

$28,500

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea

40R Zoning

$23,000

Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

Ashland, Framingham, Natick

Comprehensive Community Climate Accounting

$130,000

Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

Gloucester & Winthrop

Climate Zoning for Coastal Communities

$45,300

Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)

Belmont, Ipswich, Marblehead & Peabody

Net Zero Planning in Communities with Municipal Light Plants

$150,000

Maynard

Maynard

Housing Production Plan Update

$20,500

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC)

Hubbardston

Master Plan: Implementation Chapter

$18,000

Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC)

Sterling

Master Plan: Historical & Cultural Resources, Services & Facilities, & Land Use Elements

$40,000

New Bedford

New Bedford

Form Based Code, Solar Zoning, & Use Table Update

$44,000

Northampton

Northampton

Community & Resilience Hub

$45,000

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC)

Easthampton, Hadley, Ludlow, and S. Hadley

Land Development & Management in the Pioneer Valley after COVID 19

$43,000

Salem

Salem

Mixed Use Zoning for the Bridge Street Neck

$21,400

Ware

Ware

West St. Corridor Study

$30,000

Wenham

Wenham

Audit & Update Subdivision Regulations

$18,000

West Brookfield

West Brookfield

Comprehensive Zoning Re-write

$45,000

 
"The Planning Assistance Grant Program provides towns an opportunity to implement sustainability initiatives that seek to improve resilience to climate change, and I am thrilled that the town of Great Barrington will be receiving support," State Representative Smitty Pignatelli, House Chair of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture, said. "Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for all of their efforts to not only improve climate emissions but also to support affordability, accessibility, and cost savings for residents across the Commonwealth."
 
The administration's Housing Choice Initiative, which was announced in December 2017, is a package of technical assistance for communities, the Housing Choice Communities (HCC) designation, new capital grant funding, and pending legislation, An Act to Promote Housing Choices. This initiative, and its goal to produce 135,000 new units of housing by 2025, complements the investments made by the Department of Housing and Community Development in affordable housing production across the state, and supports local government actions to meet the demands of a growing and aging population in Massachusetts.
 
 
 
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State Announces Final Order on Eversource Gas Rates

BOSTON — The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has issued a final Order in a rate case for NSTAR Gas Company, doing business as Eversource Energy, that will lead to investments in clean energy technologies, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in infrastructure safety and service reliability, while significantly reducing the total rate increase request of Eversource. 
 
The action by the DPU follows a year-long investigation that included four public hearings across Eversource Energy's service territory, 12 days of virtual evidentiary hearings, and a review of approximately 1,800 exhibits. The Order applies only to customers who are provided gas service in NSTAR's territory in 51 towns in Eastern and Central Massachusetts and does not impact customers in the former Columbia Gas of Massachusetts gas service territory.
 
The DPU's Order reduced Eversource's base revenue request by approximately $12.2 million – decreasing Eversource's original requested increase of $34,970,916 by 35 percent. Today's decision marks the first time that Eversource's gas base distribution rates have changed since 2016.
 
"Today's Order will ensure Massachusetts continues to lead the way by investing and providing affordable, clean, and reliable energy solutions to ratepayers," DPU Chairman Matthew Nelson said. "Building on the Department's investigation into the future of natural gas in the Commonwealth's energy portfolio, the Order will also result in new clean energy options for residents to help Massachusetts achieve its aggressive emissions reduction goals."
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