Poll: 40B Strategies – Ideas to Help Medfield Meet the 10 Percent Threshold

Editor's note: The following was published by Medfield Board of Selectmen chair Osler Peterson on his blog, "Medfield 02052." The content below are the ideas and opinions of Peterson. The poll question was created by local editor Jeremie Smith.

Over the 12 years that I have been a selectman, I have, of course, recognized the issues that flow from  G. L. c. 40B and the 40B developments I saw effecting other towns, so I have had possible solutions percolating in my mind. 

Also, I feel that as a matter of essential justice, that it is correct and proper for our society to provide affordable housing. Given those starting points, I have made several suggestions over the years about ways for Medfield to make progress on meeting the 10 percent affordable housing threshold, that exempts towns from unwanted 40B developments.

  • The first proposal came from what I believe may have been at the first Massachusetts Municipal Association annual convention I attended, and I did not learn about the MMA for several years after becoming a selectman, so maybe around 2003 or 2004. The Falmouth Housing Authority’s director was a presenter at that first MMA meeting I attended, and he told about Falmouth’s planned and systematic conversion of existing housing into affordable housing. When the proper housing became available, Falmouth would buy it and convert it into affordable housing. This technique has the benefit of creating affordable housing without changing the impacts on and/or densities of existing neighborhoods. When I presented that idea to my colleagues, I specifically recall suggesting the Town of Medfield should be buying every unit at Medfield Gardens that came on the market, in an effort to do what we could to meet our 10 percent affordable housing threshold. Another time, when I saw a newspaper ad offering for sale a six-unit property on Green Street (almost at North Street), I suggested the town buy it to convert to affordable housing. Converting existing housing makes for a long road to get us over 10 percent, unless most of Medfield Gardens suddenly became available, but such a plan could be part of a larger strategy.
  • Second, there is vacant land next to Tilden Village, which I understand is controlled by the Medfield Housing Authority. I suggested the town should sponsor building more elderly housing on that location. Medfield can certainly use more elderly housing, and the municipal budget impacts would be minimal. Where the facilities at Tilden Village already exist, for the new construction there would be savings from not having to construct what already exists there – i.e. no need for an additional administrative office and community meeting room. I was told that the then Medfield Housing Authority was not interested in doing so.
  • The third proposal I made was for the town to build affordable housing on other town owned land. The town itself owns parcels all over town.

There was no interest expressed in pursuing any of these ideas.

So Medfield, we want to know ...

Today's question: Which of Osler Peterson's suggestions mentioned above do you agree with, if any?

Osler Peterson February 17, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Eileen, It was Mike Sullivan who made that comment. The MHA board is soo different now that may nnot be the current attitude at all. I have come to think the town should apppoint a citizen committee to look into what we have for options, and to make recommendations as to what we should be doing. Then the town can decide whether it wants to follow through on what is recommended or not.
Jack hurd February 17, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Selectman Peterson, The Medfield Housing Authority is certainly interested in expanding affordable housing at our Tilden Village Complex if funding were to become available. We would welcome the opportunity to engage in discussions with town officials and others about expanding on our site or in patrtnership in other areas of town. Jack Hurd, MHA Executive Director
Osler Peterson February 17, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Mr. Hurd, That is great to hear. I welcome having those discussions with you and your board. I intend to ask at the next Board of Selectmen that my colleagues look at constituting a citizen committee to study the possible alternatives and to make some recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and the town meeting.
Concerned March 09, 2012 at 01:09 AM
I would ask Mr. Hurd what he and Anne Thompson have been doing on the board..as she stated that they had not met for over a year. What is the point of this board anyway?
Osler Peterson March 09, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Concerned, Mr. Hurd only recently took over as the director of the Medfield Housing Authority, and its current board is also quite new, so they should not be criticized. They administer Tilden Village. The town's Affordable Housing Committee has been administering the rest of the town's currently existing housing, and they are the ones who only meet when there is an issue related to that existing housing, because the town has had no plans to build more affordable housing since Allendale was built about 15 years ago. The town now needs to start a process of developing a plan about what to do with respect to affordable housing, and that is what is in the process of changing at this time. Hopefully, the newly constituted Medfield Housing Authority, the Affordable Housing Committee, and the new voices we are hearing will all be part of that new discussion. Mr Hurd has already said he wants to be. Pete


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