Leslie A. Duthie, Chair
Community Preservation Committee
Monson Town Administration Building
110 Main Street
Monson, MA 01057
The Community Preservation Act (the “CPA”, MGL Chapter 44B) is statewide enabling legislation allowing cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to adopt a property tax surcharge with revenues from this surcharge (plus state matching funds) to be used for open space preservation, creation of community housing, preservation of historic buildings and landscapes, and creation of recreation opportunities. Monson adopted the CPA at the 2006 Annual Town Meeting and at a Town Election in November of 2006. The surcharge went into effect with the start of Fiscal Year 2008 on July 1, 2007.
Consistent with the requirements of the CPA and with a bylaw adopted at the 2007 Annual Town Meeting, the Community Preservation Committee (“CPC”) was formed to study the needs, possibilities and resources of the town regarding community preservation. The CPC, appointed by the Selectmen, includes representatives of the town’s Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, Planning Board, Parks and Recreation Commission, Housing Authority, and two at-large citizen members.
After its formation, in January of 2008, the CPC met to discuss its role as facilitators for community preservation in Monson. It worked with Katherine Ross and the Community Preservation Coalition to get started and better understand the roles, responsibilities and scope of authority of the committee. Currently the committee is building out a timeline for action, developing a strategy and plan of action to gather and evaluate proposals and develop a process to maximize community understanding and involvement. As other communities which have adopted community preservation, the Monson CPC determined:
· It will be a catalyst for projects, not an initiator
· It will be a funder, not a developer
· It will work closely with the community to understand and validate unmet needs
· It will utilize community goals previously set forth in other public documents that
have received wide scrutiny and public input
· It will attempt to meet multiple community preservation goals in each project
· It will communicate its mission and goals to the general public
The Monson CPC’s goals will form the basis for projects recommended by the CPC. While it is assumed that other projects unrelated to these goals will be submitted over time, and further, that these goals may be amended over time as the needs of the town change, consistency with the main goals as found in this plan will receive preference.
The Monson CPC has adopted the following Vision and Mission statements to guide its activities and underscore its’ commitment and accountability the community of Monson:
We will leave a legacy of preserving the “heart of Monson” through the support of meaningful, long term community investments which fortify historic resources, preserve open space, expand recreational opportunities enable affordable housing options and enhance the way of life we value as the community of Monson
• To successfully deliver on the promise of stocktickerCPC for Monson to
– Acquire, create and preserve open space
– Acquire, rehabilitate, restore and preserve historic resources
– Acquire, create and preserve land for recreational use
– Acquire create, preserve and support community housing
• To work collaboratively with the citizens of Monson, town and state officials to realize the greatest
possibilities for our community under the Community Preservation Act
• To be recognized as good stewards of the funds and responsibilities entrusted to our oversight
• To fortify and improve the way of life we value as the community of Monson
The CPC will review existing town studies, including the 2004 Master Plan and the 2005 Open Space and Recreation Plan. In addition Historic Preservation and Housing goals and priorities will be considered. All proposed projects will be scrutinized by the committee, challenged for merit, completeness and viability and prioritized for presentation at Town Meeting. All plans will be presented and discussed in open meetings with the community to fine tune recommendations and priorities prior to formal presentation at Town Meeting. While it is assumed that other projects unrelated to these goals will be submitted over time and, further, that these goals may be amended over time as the needs of the town change, consistency with the main town goals as found in the above mentioned studies and validated by
the community will receive preference.
Monson’s Commitment to Community Preservation
It is not surprising that Monson adopted the Community Preservation Act. For many years the residents of Monson have been concerned with erosion of the town’s historic and rural character. We value our history and way of life and wish to preserve the character of our town for future generations. Monson completed a lengthy strategic planning process culminating in the writing of a Master Plan in 2004, the first comprehensive planning document for Monson in many years. We are looking ahead, trying to shape the community’s future, both through actions and words.
With the adoption of the 2004 Monson Master Plan, the following vision for the town was established:
Monson Vision for the Future
· Remain a quiet, friendly, family-oriented community
· Protect open space, farmland, and forest
· Maintain its historic, rural feel and appearance as well as its sense of tradition
and small town character
· Provide housing opportunities that meet the needs of local residents.
· Provide residents with a variety of community events and activities
· Maintain its character and traditions
II. Goals, Needs and Proposed Projects
It should be noted that in recommending to Town Meeting the award of Community Preservation Act funding, the Community Preservation Committee will give preference to projects which:
o Are aligned with the Monson Vision for the Future and town plans and goal statements as detailed
o Address more than one goal area
o Do the most to leverage multiple funding sources
o Serve the broadest groups of the towns’ citizenry
Open Space Goals
Natural areas are Monson’s greatest resource. Located in the valley of the Chicopee Brook and surrounded by the rugged, forested slopes of its valley walls and surrounding hills, Monson possesses a rich rural heritage of field and forest, stream and wetland, ridgeline and valley vistas. A rich past of many layers contributes to this setting. Dry laid stone walls, an echo of Monson’s agricultural past, are present in almost every part of town.
The scenic vistas, walking trails, and bucolic roadsides embody what is the rural character of Monson. In addition, open spaces serve practical purposes. They provide healthy habitat for wildlife and help keep air and water clean. Natural forest communities protect areas from flooding, contribute to the ground water supply and filter out pollutants from runoff thus preserving the cleanliness of our aquifers. As a response to increased development, protection for Monson’s most significant lands must be planned. Only 14% of the land in Monson is permanently protected.
The term open space covers a wide range of land types and land uses. For the purpose of this document, open space is any parcel or area of land or water that is improved, unimproved, and devoted to an open space use. Open spaces can be used for preserving natural resources, managing production of resources, outdoor recreation, or public health and safety. Open spaces include functional open space, agriculture, floodways and floodplains.
Open space proposals which address as many of the criteria noted below as possible will receive preference:
· Preserve a priority parcel as identified in the 2005 Open Space and Recreation Plan, or a parcel that is
added to that list by the Conservation Commission.
· Permanently protect important wildlife habitat, including areas that- are of local significance for
biodiversity;- contain a variety of habitats, with a diversity of geologic features and types~of vegetation;-
contain a habitat type that is in danger of vanishing from Monson, or- preserve habitat for threatened or
endangered species of plants or animals.
· Preserve Monson's rural and agricultural character.
· Provide opportunities for passive recreation and environmental education.
· Protect or enhance wildlife corridors, promote connectivity of habitat or prevent fragmentation of
· Provide connections with existing trails or potential trail linkages.
· Preserve scenic views.
· Border a scenic road.
· Protect drinking water quantity and quality.
· Provide flood control/storage. Preserve important surface water bodies, including wetlands, vernal pools
or riparian zones.
Historic Preservation Goals
The Town of Monson has consistently demonstrated a remarkable sense of pride in its rich historical heritage. It is hard to travel around Monson without being aware of its past through its historic buildings and settings. We have an abundance of 18th, 19th and 20th century structures that cover almost all of the architectural styles of those periods. We are fortunate in Monson to have had waterpower and men with the foresight to tame it as early as the 1790’s. These men built mills and some of our most prestigious homes, buildings and monuments, which are their legacy. The common man was responsible for some of the beautiful farms and barns, which dot our hillsides. We are very fortune in that many of these aforementioned structures still stand. Unfortunately, these structures cannot
preserve themselves and preservation does not come cheaply. The people of Monson have spoken in passing the Community Preservation Act to make it possible to help preserve some of these early structures as the need is great, but funding is not. It is hard to put your finger on what is historical about Monson, it is the porches with their brackets and trim; the picket fences and hitching post; it’s the historic cemeteries and the grand granite structures; it’s that little something that catches your eye as you drive by.
Specific Criteria for Historic Project Funding
Historical proposals, which address as many of the following criteria as possible will receive preference:
· Protect, preserve, enhance, restore and/or rehabilitate historic, cultural, architectural or archaeological
resources of significance, especially those that are threatened
· Protect, preserve, enhance, restore and/or rehabilitate town owned properties features or resources of
· Protect, preserve, enhance, restore and/or rehabilitate the historical function of a historical property or
· Project is within a Monson Historic District, on a State or National Historic Register, or eligible for
placement on such registers or on the Monson Historic Properties Survey
· Project demonstrates a public benefit
· Project demonstrates the ability to provide permanent protection for maintaining the historic resource
· Project provides permanent protection for historic material and artifacts that would be used for
education, research and public benefit
The Community Preservation Act funds will be an important local resource for the creation and preservation of affordable housing for Monson residents. CPA funds will assist in implementing affordable housing activities and attempt to meet local housing needs for seniors.
The MCPC shall recommend, wherever possible, the reuse of existing buildings or construction of new buildings on previously developed sites. Such development has the least impact on infrastructure and open space.
The MCPC will support modifying existing homes, including accessibility improvements that allow the disabled or senior citizens to continue to live in their homes. The need for seniors within the town is great. According to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, 51% of the seniors in Monson (age 60+) are low to moderate income. Although the overall income level of the community has risen, the income level of the seniors has not. This makes it very difficult for seniors to maintain their homes.
Additionally, there is a deficit of senior housing in this community. A major need for seniors in Monson is affordable housing: That which is economically above the state subsidized Colonial Village but more affordable than the upper income costs of Quaboag Heights.
Massachusetts State housing policy sets a goal that in each city and town 10% of the total housing stock must be affordable, and have deed restrictions to keep it affordable. For Monson this means a goal of approximately 291 affordable units. Monson is currently in a good position, with approximately 6% to 8% of the housing units being considered affordable.
A range of affordable housing options that accommodates many kinds of populations and their housing desires and that preserves our historically rural small town character is our goal. The strength of a community is apparent when people of all ages and income ranges can live and work there.
Providing housing that is affordable for subsequent generations of Monson families as well as a diverse range of households is a unique challenge, a responsibility that cannot rest solely on the open real estate market and private development. CPA funds can be an effective tool to help Monson create affordable housing. The funds could be used independently or in partnership with non-profit affordable housing organizations and government agencies.
Monson’s Community Housing Goals
Goal: Use Restrictions
Affordable housing projects in Monson require that affordability be maintained through deed restrictions. Deed restrictions for rental projects require long-term affordability, usually in perpetuity. The deed restriction for homeownership projects also require long-term affordability, usually in perpetuity, and also include resale provisions, which ensure that units will remain affordable to the targeted income group and be resold to households within the eligible income limits.
Goal: Maximize local control over the development of affordable housing. This will be accomplished by taking a proactive approach, by establishing locally directed initiatives, by clearly articulating a strong vision of what we want, and by our willingness to take the necessary steps to achieve that vision.
Goal: Provide affordable housing for several key population~segments. The target segments include; Town employees, retired seniors and 55+ active adults, families, young people, and people with special needs.
Housing should include a mixture of single-family homes, condominiums and apartments with both ownership and rental units at affordable rates. The percent allocation between senior vs. family units and between ownership vs. rental units will change over the years in keeping with needs assessments. Preference for affordable housing will be given, to the extent allowed by law, to current Town employees with at least 3 years of service, to current residents who have resided in the Town for at least 3 years, and to former residents who have resided in the Town for at least 3 of the last 10 years.
Goal: Affordable housing projects will be designed and built in accordance with the standards typical in Monson and that are fitting with our culture and character.
No clear-cut properties
No cookie cutter developments.
Housing that is harmonious in design with its neighborhood.
Goal: Affordable Housing will be inclusive, diverse and evenly distributed throughout all of Monson.
Affordable housing in Monson will not be located in one part of Town, nor in one project, nor in any way excluded from the mainstream of our community.
Goal: Monson affordable housing stock will provide for middle, moderate, and low-income households.
The Community Preservation Act defines community housing to include housing for persons or families earning up to 100% of the median area income as determined by HUD. However, for affordable housing created with CPA funds to be counted toward Monson’s Chapter 40B affordable housing inventory the units must serve those who earn at or below 80% of the median area income. Low income is defined as serving those who earn at or below 50% of the area.
The mission of the Monson Parks and Recreation Commission is to offer programs for all ages and interests, giving each individual the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities. Through these activities, participants will be able to make constructive use of leisure time and contribute to positive physical and mental health, and good sportsmanship.
The Monson Parks and Recreation Commission runs over 140 programs a year, with program offerings for pre-school through senior citizens. Parks and Recreation also runs after school programs in all three public schools in Town. Parks and Recreation also schedules field and gym use for youth sports and other organizations on town owned and school owned facilities (after school hours),
The Recreation Commission is committed to working together with other departments and residents to insure that Monson maintains the quality of life that Residents should be afforded.
Monson’s Recreation Goals:
Goal: Create additional recreational facilities, area and programs to serve the needs of Southborough residents while protecting our limited natural resources
Goal: Expand trail systems on conservation and Town owned land
Goal: Create partnerships and agreements with private landowners to promote hiking/walking, biking, cross country skiing, bird watching, and other nature activitiesGoal: Optimize the use of land already owned by Monson,
Goal: Promote the creation of opportunities for safe and healthful non-motorized transportation;
Goal: Maintain existing facilities to provide for the safety of those using facilities
Goal: Preserve Town assets.
Specific Criteria for Recreation Projects in Monson
Expand and manage recreational open space opportunities. Address the known, existing deficiencies and plan for anticipated needs.
· Establish a greenway that would provide a trail network for hiking, walking and biking to link existing and future public open space.
· Establish recreational opportunities for disabled adults and children.
· Establish a downtown river walk
· Improve public access to local waterways for non-motorized boating.
· Create a public ice rink.
· Create more opportunities for outdoor public swimming.
· Step up recreational programming for adults such as downtown walking groups, softball leagues and
· Connect Colonial Village to Veterans Field with a bridge to improve access for seniors.
· Establish an interpretive route featuring significant historic sites within the town.
III. Project Eligibility and Funding
The Community Preservation Committee requires that all proposed projects be eligible for CPA funding according to the requirements described in the legislation. Funds collected under the CPA can only be spent for four main community preservation purposes – open space, historic preservation, community housing and land for recreational use. In addition, at least 10% of the funds received in any fiscal year must be spent or set aside for each of the first three of those areas (open space, historic preservation and community housing). The remaining 70% of each year’s funds can be spent in any of the four areas. However, these funds cannot be spent on maintenance or used to supplement funds being used for existing community preservation purposes. In addition, up to 5% of the annual Community
Preservation revenues can be spent on administrative and operating expenses of the CPC.
The town anticipates significant state matching funds in the first several years of the program. While the preliminary Fiscal Year 2008 Community Preservation Surcharge has been estimated to be approximately $154,000, this number may be reduced depending on the number of local exemptions filed and actual funds collected. The town may receive a 65%-100% state match of its local receipts. While anticipated local revenues during the 5 year CPA period can be bonded to fund a large project, any bonding undertaken over the 5 year period shall require collection of the surcharge for the life of the bond. Town Meeting action would authorize such extension of the surcharge. All Community Preservation Act funding requests require the recommendation of the project by the CPC to Town Meeting, and a
majority vote of Town Meeting.
IV. General Criteria
The Monson Community Preservation Committee will give preference to proposals that meet the following general criteria:
· Are eligible for CPA funding according to the requirements described in the CPA legislation;
· Are consistent with the Master Plan and other planning documents that have received
wide scrutiny and input and have been adopted by the town;
· Preserve the essential character of the town as described in the Master Plan;
· Save resources that would otherwise be threatened and/or serve a currently
· Either serve more than one CPA purpose (especially in linking open space, recreation
and community housing) or demonstrate why serving multiple needs is not feasible;
· Demonstrate practicality and feasibility, and demonstrate that they can be implemented
expeditiously and within budget;
· Produce an advantageous cost/benefit value;
· Leverage additional public and/or private funds;
· Preserve or utilize currently owned town assets; and
· Receive endorsement by other municipal boards or departments.
Each community preservation project will also be judged based on the category specific criteria listed in each area.
V . Solicitation of Project Proposals
The Community Preservation Committee welcomes project proposals that may contribute to community preservation in Monson. Forms and guidelines for submission will be developed by April of 2008.
A public forum to review the activities of the Monson CPC, including presentations by the key stakeholders established under the plan will be accomplished prior to the 2008 Town Meeting. The CPC will solicit proposals and formally make recommendations for the first round of initiatives by year end 2008. The public is invited to participate in all meetings and especially encouraged to participate in all community forums.
Community Preservation Committee:
Leslie A. Duthie, Chair, Conservation Commission
Dennis Swierad, Vice-Chair, Historical Commission
Bill Skillman, At Large
Michael Benfield, At Large
Karen King, Planning Board
Stephen Slozak, Parks & Recreation Commission
Robert Presho, Housing Authority