Tracking Town Actions: Commonwealth Capital Policies
How is your town doing protecting the environment?
We have begun tracking more closely what measures towns have adopted that help implement the goals in the Buzzards Bay watershed plan. On this page we show how municipalities are taking actions to implement those Commonwealth Capital Policies that also help advance goals and objectives contained in the Buzzards Bay Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan.
This first table shows the Commonwealth Capital Score for each municipality in the watershed, and how those scores compare to the 188 scores assessed statewide in 2005 by the Massachusetts Office of Community Development. The purpose of the Commonwealth Capital Policy is to coordinate state capital spending programs that affect development patterns, to ensure that state funding promote projects consistent with Sustainable Development Principles, and advance the Commonwealth’s development interests. Through this rating process, the Commonwealth is seeking to support planning and zoning measures that are in accord with state land use policies by linking state spending programs to municipal land use practices. Many state grant and loan programs now require completion of the Commonwealth Capital Application sheet to be eligible for those programs The municipalities Commonwealth Capital Score (right click to download) now represents 30% of the evaluation score on the applications to these programs. Nearly $500 million was available last year in state discretionary funding and distributed under the Commonwealth Capital program (see a partial program list below).
Commonwealth Capital Scores
|BB Municipality||2005 Score||2006 Score||Relative Rank|
Based on 188 scores statewide for 2005:
=in bottom 25% statewide (score <50) | =in mid 50% statewide |
=in top 25% statewide (score>78) | NS=No Municipal Applications for Funds
Municipalities in the Buzzards Bay watershed can improve the Commonwealth Capital scores, and improve their chances of receiving discretionary state funds if they also take certain actions to protect or enhance the environment or natural resources. Those actions in the Commonwealth Capital Score evaluation that also achieve goals in the Buzzards Bay CCMP are summarized in the table below. (Move your cursor over the smiley icon to see if there is more information relating to that town on the issue.) Data for 2005, except Falmouth and Bourne, where 2006 data was used.
Commonwealth Capital Scores that achieve goals in the Buzzards Bay Management Plan
|Municipality||Current Open Space Plans (4pts)||Transf Develop Rights (5pts)||Cluster Zoning or OSRD (11pts)||Water Resrc Manag (5pts)||Water Resrc Protct (5pts)||Water Consrv Plan (incl in WRP)||Perm Open Space (3pts)||Comm Presv Act (3pts)|
= Measure, regulation, or policy adopted.
= Adopted, but not used since 2003 because of disincentives, contradictory laws, or other hindrances.
= Measure, regulation, or policy pending or committed to in Commonwealth Capital Application.
= Failed, never attempted, or not committed to in Commonwealth Capital Application.
= Failed or never attempted, or committed to, but suitability questionable for community.
Explanations of Actions
Current Open Space Plans (2 pts committed, 4 pts adopted): These plans, which are valid for five years, help municipalities identify open lands for passive and active recreational uses, and most important from an environmental protection perspective, establish priorities for land protection and open space acquisition. The plan is required to apply for Self-Help grants from the state to help fund land acquisitions, and further stretch local dollars, like those from the CPA. (View Data Source -xls file)
Transfer of Development Rights (2 pts committed, 3 pts adopted, 5 pts adopted & used): Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs) is a zoning technique that uses market forces to transfer development from one area (the “sending area”) in order to protect that area from development, to another location where development is more appropriate (the “receiving area”). TDRs have been used to protect open space and farmland as well as for historic preservation purposes. Towns have to carefully decide what areas they want to develop, and what areas they want to protect to best protects water quality and living resources. In some cases, property owners in the sending areas sells his development rights so that a developer can increase density in the receiving area.
Cluster Zoning or OSRD (3 pts committed, 5 pts adopted, 8 pts adopted and implemented, +3 bonus mandated / by right): A cluster subdivision is a form of development that permits reductions in lot area requirements if the remaining land becomes protected open space. This method allows communities to protect additional areas of open space without having to expend local or state funds for the outright purchase of the property. Development costs are reduced and there is generally less infrastructure with shorter streets and water lines, and at the same time environmental benefits are enhanced because of less impervious surface and pollution runoff. Cluster subdivisions are sometimes called Open Space Residential Design or Conservation Subdivision Design. Typically, other requirements such as road frontage, setbacks, and lot sizes are reduced to allow flexibility in the design of the development and to help preserve ecologically sensitive areas, agricultural lands, historic sites or other important characteristics of the property. Towns must pass a bylaw to allow clustering. In general, the Buzzards Bay NEP does not recommend bonuses as of right for clustering because the additional the units generally counter the environmental benefits of clustering.
Water Resource Management (5 pts adopted, 2 pts committed): Points in this category are achieved by implementing or committing to any one of these programs below.
Source Water Protection Plans that address either surface water supply protection or wellhead protection.
Water Conservation Plans that outline measures to reduce water consumption as delineated in the 1992 DCR Water Conservation Standards. These standards are currently being updated.
Comprehensive Wastewater Plans that address future wastewater needs. A Comprehensive Wastewater Plan is created through a planning process in which current and future wastewater needs are quantified, wastewater management alternatives considered, and a final plan chosen through careful comparison of options.
Integrated Wastewater Management Plans that at a minimum includes all of the elements in a Comprehensive Wastewater Plan. Guidance and standards are under development by DEP.
Stormwater bylaw/ordinance: These bylaws address pre and post-construction stormwater management.
LID bylaw or ordinance or subdivision regulations: these bylaws or regulations encourage the use of low impact development techniques for managing stormwater during development. The goal is to replicate the pre-development hydrology of the site after development through reducing impervious surfaces and retaining and slowing runoff on-site using non-structural strategies.
Water resource protection zoning overlay districts: These place additional limitations on the types of activities, uses, and development allowed in these important resource areas.
Enterprise accounts for water or wastewater: An enterprise account is a technique that ensures that customers of a water or wastewater system are paying the full cost of the services they receive. Enterprise accounts enable the utility to operate self-sufficiently by setting rates that cover the cost of providing the service. The user fees are paid into a separate account, which allows the utility to avoid dependence on general fund expenditures.
Innovative measures (stormwater utility; water bank; septic system maintenance tracking or monitoring program): These innovative techniques address different water resource issues. A community could establish a septic system maintenance-tracking program to ensure regular maintenance of septic systems, which lessen the likelihood that they could fail. Water banks are a new type of agreement that provide for allocation of water supply between different users: water banks can be geographical or temporal in nature. Stormwater utilities allow a city or town to assess taxes or fees for use of the stormwater system. The resulting revenue enables upgrades to the stormwater infrastructure.
Open Space Protected (3 pts if 25% or more of the town area, 2 pts for 15-25% of town area): Permanently protected open space safeguards critical habitat, water quality, community character, and can provide opportunities for recreation and environmental education. The land must be within the municipal boundary and have permanent protection status. The municipality itself does not have to be the fee owner or manager of protected lands. The Conservation Commission typically controls permanently protected municipal land. Environmental Managers believe that all towns should strive to protect at least 15% of their community as open space, with the ideal being at least 25%. Does this seem unreasonable to you? Consider the fact that New York City has 30% protected Open Space; Boston has nearly 18%.
The data in this table is based on MassGIS data coverages (check the data source). The Buzzards Bay NEP can help towns identify parcels that have not been included in the MassGIS database.
Community Preservation Act (3 pts adopted, 2 pts committed): The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is enabling legislation that allows municipalities to establish a property tax surcharge for the purposes of providing affordable housing, protecting historic resources, preserving open space, and providing recreational opportunities. Cities and towns are encouraged to adopt the CPA, thus providing local resources for these purposes. (View Data Source -pdf file)
Grant Programs with Comm-Cap Required (funding agency in parentheses): Public Works Economic Development Program (EOT), Bike and Pedestrian Program (EOT) – this program now under development Transit Oriented Development Bond Program (EOT), Community Development Action Grant Program (DHCD), Affordable Housing Trust Fund (DHCD), Housing Stabilization Fund (DHCD), Economic Development Fund/CDBG (formerly the Ready Resource Fund, DHCD), Housing Development Support Pro-gram (DHCD), Commercial Area Transit Node Program (DHCD), State Revolving Fund (EEA – DEP), Urban Brownfields Assessment Program (EEA), Self-Help Program (EEA- DCS), Urban Self-Help Program (EEA – DCS,) Land & Water Conservation Fund (EEA-DCS), Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program (EEA – DAR), EOEA Land Protection Programs (EEA – DCR, DFG), Drinking Water Supply Protection Grant Program (EEA), UrbanRiver Visions Implementation Program (EEA), and Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program (EEA – CZM).