Commentary by John Cronin
Why is the Town working on a new Master Plan?
There are four big reasons:
- Hall of Famer Yogi Berra advised: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.”
- Milton wishes to identify new net property tax revenue sources, to sustain its quality life style.
- The Master Plan is required by law. “Planning Boards shall make a plan” per MGL Ch. 41, Sec. 81D. The law specifies nine chapters required including Goals, Housing, Economic Development, Open Space and Recreation, Traffic and Circulation and Implementation.
- A 1969 state law obligates all municipalities to have 10% of their housing stock “affordable”. Milton is at 4.2%. Failure to meet the 10% goal allows developers to bypass local zoning and build often high density 40B projects. Tools have been provided by the legislature to help manage the 40B challenge. These include the Housing Production Plan (HPP) which the Selectmen are studying, the Community Preservation Act (CPA), a Housing Trust recently established, and an Inclusionary Affordable Housing Bylaw with on and off site provisions.
To date the Planning Board has received appropriations of $125,000 for the Master Planning process. The first $25,000 was used to retain the consulting firm of Brown Walker for a “Visioning process”. That report may be read on the Town Website under “Master Plan”.
$20,000 has been spent by the Town since 2006 to develop Milton’s Housing Production plan. The leading expert in the state, Karen Sunnaborg, has recently updated the Plan for the current Board of Selectmen: Katie Conlon, Tom Hurley, and Denis Keohane, chair. They await maps with site options which are being prepared by the Public Works Department.
The members of the Planning Board are Edward L. Duffy, Emily Keyes Innes, Michael E. Kelly, Bernard J. Lynch III, and Alexander Whiteside, Chair. The Planning Board has used their $100,000 2013 Annual Town Meeting appropriation to contract with Www.Community-Circle.com , a sole proprietorship owned by Daphne Politis AICP of Lexington, Ma. She has extensive municipal Master Planning experience and has three collaborators on this contract.
The Planning Board has also named a Master Plan Committee to work with the residents and the selected consultant. The Committee members are Glenn Pavlicek, John Kiernan, Tom Hurley, Ellen DeNooyer, Steve Affanato, Cheryl Tougias, David Defilippo, Richard Burke, and Enrique Silva. John Cronin, Paul Traverse, Wally Sisson, Taber Keally, and Emily Keys Innes, Chair.
Milton is six miles horizontally by three and a half in breadth. Milton Village is six miles from the State House. It rises from sea level to 635 ft. at the summit of Great Blue Hill.
With an area of 13.2 square miles or 8,448 acres, it may seem that the Master Planners have a lot of land to look at. Recent MAPC studies suggest Milton is approaching a “built out” status. Those study maps were based on aerial or spatial technology which could not identify specific land parcels. The consultants are expected to produce more details existing condition maps using the Town’s superior G.I.S. tools. These maps will show developed land, DCR and restricted land, and land improbable for development such as Cunningham Park. Forum participants will all have access to these new detailed maps.
Those who seek a 48 acre site for a future Hingham style Derby Street Shops, a site to develop a Milton version of the 128 acre Westwood Station, a second 88 Wharf or Quisset Brook condominium locations, will have tools to use.
A schedule of public forums will be announced within the coming weeks.
John Cronin is a former Milton Town Administrator and current member of the Master Plan Committee. Note: this is the 2nd of two articles on Milton’s Master Plan. You can find the first article here.