Losing Ground in Massachusetts: Zoning Reform Can Help

The Boston Globe recently reported on Mass Audubon’s Losing Ground report. This study of development patterns in Massachusetts found that between 2005 and 2013, the Commonwealth lost 13 acres of open space—per day!—to development. That amounts to a loss of nearly 38,000 acres of open space in an eight-year period.

As real estate development picks up in light of our state’s recovery from the recession, it’s likely this loss of land will only increase. Why? Because our state’s current zoning laws make it easier for developers to create low-density sprawl instead of the walkable, vibrant communities with nearby amenities and public transportation in which Massachusetts residents want to live.

But development and conservation of open space don’t have to be at odds with each other. Our zoning laws need to be updated to facilitate smarter growth patterns, from Plymouth to Pittsfield. Sprawl costs our state in so many ways. Infrastructure is more costly to build and maintain in sprawling subdivisions. Public health suffers when residents get around by car instead of by foot, bike, or mass transit. And our environment pays a steep price—from loss of open space to more carbon emissions produced by a car-centric community. There’s currently a bill pending in the Legislature that would incentivize our communities to grow smart and we need your help getting it passed by the legislature this month. Learn more here and contact your legislators to let them know that smart planning is important to your community.

Thank you to Mass Audubon for supporting Zoning Reform in Massachusetts, and for highlighting the cost of sprawl in our state.

23rd Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference is this Saturday

The Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition and The Trustees of Reservations are hosting the 23rd Massachusetts Land Conservation Conference is this Saturday at Worcester Technical High School.

Get more information about the daylong conference, download materials, and register online.

The Massachusetts Smart Growth is proud this year to be a co-sponsor of this conference. Other co-sponsors include Groundwork USA, Land Trust Alliance, Mass Audubon, The Trust for the Public Land, and The Nature Conservancy.

Groundwork Lawrence selected as social innovator

Congratulations to our Great Neighborhoods partner, Groundwork Lawrence, for being selected as one of five a social innovators in Greater Boston at Root Cause’s 2012–2013 Social Innovation Forum.

Groundwork Lawrence has done exceptional work in Lawrence on environmental and open space improvements, fresh food programs, youth education, employment initiatives, and community programming and events. This award recognizes these achievements and provides the organization with more than $115,000 in cash and capacity-building services from Root Cause and its partners.

Take a look to at this recent video to see how GWL is helping to build Great Neighborhoods and healthy communities in Lawrence.

Root Cause is a nonprofit research and consulting firm that partners with nonprofits, philanthropy, government, and business to advance solutions to today’s toughest social issues. To see the entire press release click here.