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December 2008

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The old cliché "never a dull moment" certainly has applied to the Community Preservation Act this fall. First there was the eagerly awaited CPA Trust Fund distribution, the first ever where most communities received less than a 100% match. That was followed by the first ever Supreme Judicial Court decision in a case involving CPA. We cover both important events, plus more, in this issue of CPA Update.

In this issue . . .

Analysis of CPA Trust Fund distribution

In mid-October, 127 CPA communities received their yearly disbursement from the statewide CPA Trust Fund. As anticipated, for the first time, the match rate dipped below 100%, and communities received varying percentage matches, based on the distribution formula contained in Section 10 of the Act. As a result, some interesting patterns emerged. Also of note, the Department of Revenue (DOR) provided a first look at the estimated match for October 15, 2009.

First Supreme Judicial Court decision on CPA
Decision provides narrow definition of allowable recreation projects in existing parks
istock law book

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has offered its first interpretation of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act, giving important guidance on the expenditure of community preservation funds for recreational projects. Ten Newton taxpayers challenged the city's proposed use of CPA funds on several projects in two city parks. The plaintiffs alleged that the use of CPA funds for these projects did not constitute the "creation" or "preservation" of land for recreational purposes under Section 5(b)(2) of the CPA Act and, therefore, was not a permitted expenditure of CPA funds.

Applications for Kuehn Award extended to January 31, 2009
Submit your best CPA project to us today!

We are looking for great examples of successful CPA projects, and it could be quite rewarding if your community is chosen! The Robert Kuehn Community Preservation Award program is planning to honor two completed CPA projects that best exemplify the spirit of Bob Kuehn's legacy. One winner will be chosen in each of two categories. The large community category includes CPA cities and towns with FY2008 local surcharge revenues of over $400,000 and the small category includes those whose FY2008 surcharge revenues are under $400,000. The winning community in each category will receive an award of $3,500. The Keen Charitable Foundation is donating the award money in Bob's memory.

Because of the upcoming holiday season, we've extended the application deadline to January 31, 2009.

Fall 2008 CPA adoption election results
coalition news

Voters in seven new communities approved CPA ballot measures on November 4th, including the cities of Gloucester and West Springfield, and the towns of Northfield, Royalston, Shutesbury, Swansea, and Whately. This brought the total number of CPA communities to 140 statewide, which is 40% of the cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

Appropriating CPA funds to your Conservation Fund or Municipal Housing Trust

Does your community need the flexibility to purchase open space when it comes on the market, without having to obtain Town Meeting or City Council approval? Or, be able to acquire land for affordable housing without having to wait for your municipality's legislative body to vote on each opportunity that arises? It's important to react quickly when real estate opportunities arise or your community may risk losing the deal. One way to do this is to establish a conservation fund and/or an affordable housing trust, both of which can be funded with CPA appropriations.

This issue's featured CPA project
Carver Open Space Project

This issue's featured CPA project is an open space conservation project in the Town of Carver. The CPA was adopted in Carver in April 2006 in large part to protect the subject property - a 242-acre agricultural property that was enrolled in the MGL c.61A agricultural protection program.

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Stuart Saginor
Community Preservation Coalition

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