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One Step Forward One Step Back

It is time to support senior tax relief. It is also time to tell the selectmen and state representatives we are not willing to open Sudbury to high density housing that negates this relief.

Tomorrow I will be voting for senior tax relief at our special town election.   I believe this is a step forward to helping solve our structural deficit issues in town. Unfortunately, today I also received a flyer advertising the availability of 40B housing units in Sudbury.  So on one hand a citizen petition before town meeting will hopefully result in senior tax relief to keep seniors in town. But on the other hand, two of our selectmen, the Sudbury Housing Trust and our planning department have fought to keep 40B as a law in the state, resulting in high density housing that could effectively cancel out our senior tax relief efforts.

First,  we should enact senior tax relief.  The proposed law is not perfect. But if those of us with school age children look at this purely selfishly, anything that slows or reverses the growth of students in our schools is a good thing.  The high percentage of Sudbury households that have students in the schools is a blessing, but also one of the causes of our structural deficit.  The property tax income from one house does not cover the education costs for the children in the house.

While keeping seniors in town is one way to offset this structural deficit, it is not the silver bullet. Unfortunately, one does not exist.  We need to keep pushing for health insurance and pension reform, scrutiny over all town hiring, consolidation of our school administrations, preservation of open space,  and a more equitable regional school agreement with Lincoln. Senior tax relief is a step in the right direction. The law as written expires in three years so provides a useful experiment.

Similar to our push for senior tax relief, we need to push to end the 40B affordable housing law that enables developers to build high density housing in Sudbury.  The impact of this law is very visible in the developments now taking shape along route 20.  One bedroom units will probably not generate children in our schools.  Two bedroom units?  Three bedroom units?  You decide.  You can see the attached flyer from our housing office advertising homes and two/three bedroom units.

The unfortunate aspect to all this, is not the affordable housing aspect.  But that for every affordable unit at Landham crossing, there are three market rate units built in a high density development that include two and three bedroom units. Had standard Sudbury zoning been followed, this level of development would not be permitted.

It is time to support senior tax relief. It is also time to tell the selectmen and state representatives that while we are willing to pay higher taxes to keep seniors in town, we are not willing to open Sudbury to high density housing that negates our senior tax relief efforts.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

siobhan hullinger December 05, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I guess you didn't look at the google map then
siobhan hullinger December 06, 2012 at 12:07 PM
40B is only economical for the developer. And yes - please look at the google map I posted. It shows how many units are going in. I don't know where you are getting your information from but it is completely wrong. Check out the map - it shows what is already approved just in that one location.
Mike Hullinger December 06, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Dr. RR, The point is, 40B creates the ability to override local zoning density restrictions to put in high density developments, whether they are all "affordable" or only 25% "Affordable." The UMass Donahue study relies on the false premise that the mixed use develpoments cited in their study represent the building density already permitted locally, not as a result of 40B. Let's use Landham crossing as an example with 32 units on 8 acres ( which I assume are all buildable acres). Under local zoning, 8 single family homes would be permitted, not 32 (or alternatively CPA funds could have been used to make this property open space). Even if you assume the 8 single family units are modestly priced and have more school age children per household than the high density units, the 32 units still result in a bigger negative financial impact on the town than the 8 units built in compliance with local zoning. 20-23% of the residents of this Town already fall under the 40B income limits. 40B is not about affordable housing for those making under the income limit, it is about busting local zoning to develop high density housing at a rate of 3 market rate units for each "affordable" unit.
LessIsMore December 07, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I fail to see how senior tax relief provides any solution. I understand that the idea is that tax relief will allow seniors to remain in town. This will reduce the cost of the schools as seniors are unlikely to have school age children. However, like the analysis used to support most social engineering actions this analysis does not consider the law of unintended consequences. By selecting a 'favored group' (seniors) and rewarding that group by reaching into the pockets of other town residents you have made the town less attractive to non-senior residents. This creates an incentive for non-seniors to leave the town after their children have finished with the schools due to a high tax burden which has only been made higher due to a need to subsidize seniors. I believe that senior tax relief will make the problem worse not better.
x December 11, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Cogent analysis... have you made arrangements yet for senior housing? Act now to avoid the rush. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III

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