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4.21.16 Solar Panels - Issues REALTORS® Should Consider

Buying or selling a home with solar panels installed raises specific issues that REALTORS® should address with their customers and clients.

Click here to read the latest on the subject from the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®.

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4.21.16 Plans for Kinder Morgan Pipline Withdrawn

The controversial Kinder Morgan gas pipline project slated for contstruction through several North Shore communities has been taken off of the table. Homowners in opposition to the project have been voicing their concerns at a number of public forums accross the North Shore. In addition, the company said that not enough large customers had signed on to make the $3+ billion project viable.   Click here for more details in an article by the Boston Globe.

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4.14.16 Frustration/Outrage Spurred at Public Meeting

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities recently held a meeting to receive public comment on the pending issue of whether or not representatives of Kinder Morgan, a large supplier of natural gas, will be allowed access to private property for the purpose of surveying the route of a proposed major gas supply line.

Click here for details in a related Salem News article.

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4.8.16 Register of Deeds Issues Advisory

Essex County Register of Deeds, John O’Brien, has issued an advisory to home owners asking them to “use caution and seek legal representation” when preparing to enter into a contract to install solar panels on their homes.

The advisory states that there have been a rising number of Uniform Commercial Code Financing Statements (or UCC fixture filings) recorded at the Registry of Deeds with 1,116 recorded in 2015 and 265  in 2016 as of March 7th.

Mr. O’Brien stated that, in his view, such a filing creates an encumbrance on the title to a property and does not require the signature of the home owner to be filed. As a result, a homeowner may not even be aware that an encumbrance exits on the property’s title.

Click here to view the advisory in its entirety.

Click here for related Salem News article.

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3.31.16 Congressman Moulton Seeks Resident’s Input on Gas Pipeline

US Congressman Seth Moulton

The Salem News reports that Massachusetts 6th District Congressman Seth Moulton recently launched an online portal on so that residents can provide their concerns about the proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline proposed by Kinder Morgan, a natural gas pipeline that would pass through numerous cities and towns North of Boston.

Congressman Moulton released this press: “As I hold meetings across the district, I hear from a growing number of constituents with serious concerns about rising energy costs and the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline …. This portal will give a voice to those who feel that their concerns are not being heard and addressed by Kinder Morgan and the pipeline promoters.”

Moulton's office plans to use comments collected from the online portal to obtain a formal response to constituents' concerns from Kinder Morgan and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), who is tasked with permitting the pipeline project.

“The people I've talked to feel like the concerns they raised to Kinder Morgan have fallen on deaf ears,” said Moulton. “I will share the feedback from the portal directly with FERC and Kinder Morgan in order to hold them accountable and to provide a meaningful response to our communities’ concerns."

The portal, https://moulton.house.gov/uncategorized/kinder-morgan-feedback-portal, hosted through Moulton's official website, is open until May 20, 2016.

Read the entire Salem News article.

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3.29.16 State Funds Assisting in Local Infrastructure Projects

Lower Millyard in Amesbury, MA

The Newburyport Daily News reports that Gov. Charlie Baker, who took office a year ago, wants to expand the popular MassWorks program as part of a five-year, $1 billion plan to rejuvenate communities still struggling to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s recent economic upswing.

Massworks is a program under the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development designed to help cities and towns upgrade their infrastructure. Governor Baker’s plan calls for borrowing $500 million over five years to boost funding for MassWorks by nearly 35%.  To date, MassWorks has parceled out more than $330 million in grants.

North of Boston communities - including Newburyport, Salisbury, Amesbury, Salem, Lawrence, Haverhill, Peabody, and Beverly - have received more than $42 million since the MassWorks program got underway. These projects include:

  1. Amesbury - a 1.6-acre site in the Lower Millyard quarter is now Heritage Park, where a private developer continues work on a multi-story complex of housing, office and retail space [pictured above].
  2. Haverhill - along the Merrimack River in Haverhill, a once-tired cityscape has been revitalized with a new boardwalk and parks, spurring private investment in a new complex of offices, storefronts and housing.
  3. Peabody - leaders plan to reconfigure traffic-choked Peabody Square by moving a Civil War monument and adding street lights, trees and crosswalks, in hopes of luring investment downtown. Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt said the money has been vital to the city’s downtown. “It’s helped make the downtown safer for pedestrians and more attractive,” he said. “And it’s paid off for us with significant properties being purchased by new developers who have exciting plans for the downtown.”

No match needed:  Andrew Herlihy, director of the Haverhill’s community development department, said an aspect of MassWorks that makes it so attractive is there are no requirements for communities to match the investment.  In addition to boosting MassWorks funding, Baker’s economic development proposal asks for $50 million for a separate MassDevelopment program that makes longterm equity investments in properties in “gateway cities” such as Lawrence, Methuen, Salem and Haverhill.

Previous local MassWorks grants:

  • Amesbury 2015:  enhancements to the Intersection of Route 110 and Route 150, $1,107,812, including signal upgrades, intersection modifications, and the construction of new sidewalks to Amesbury’s downtown. The improvements will allow the construction of Amesbury Heights, a 240-unit housing development, to begin in the spring.
  • Newburyport 2015: increased sewer capacity and sidewalk extension, $2,000,000, allowing Newburyport to leverage $4.45 million committed by the city to increase sewer capacity and extend sidewalks in the recently adopted 40R Smart Growth district. The infrastructure improvements will support a $16.5 million 80-unit mixed-use development located next to the MBTA commuter rail station and enable the future construction of 440 units in the 40R District.
  • Salisbury 2014: Salisbury Square Water System Improvement, $1,708,769, to upgrade the water distribution system in the town center. The replacement of existing water mains and the addition of new mains will enable the Spalding School site and 29 Elm St. to be developed into 42 housing units. The MassWorks award leverages $9 million in private investments for this project and creates opportunities for additional redevelopment in the area. 
  • Amesbury 2013: Lower Millyard Water Street Improvement Project - Amesbury’s Lower Millyard has been the focus of a significant economic development and mill revitalization effort in the downtown. The MassWorks award allowed for the realignment and addition of streetscape improvements to Water Street providing for increased pedestrian and traffic safety. The city voted to invest $5.9M in the relocation of the DPW yard, $1.5M for the construction of Heritage Park and Merrimack Valley RTA has invested $7M in its Transportation Center. The city estimated 289 housing units could be created in the Lower Millyard area.
  • Amesbury 2011:  In 2011, EOHED awarded a $1,250,000 grant through the MassWorks Infrastructure Program to reconstruct roadway infrastructure to support the development in the Lower Millyard section of the City of Amesbury. As the sole access to the Lower Millyard, Elm Street has numerous safety issues affecting the development of the area including roadway deterioration, lack of defined sidewalks, 90-degree turns, missing curbing, poor drainage, and increased traffic at severely restricted intersections. The improvements are critical to the Lower Millyard revitalization and will allow for the expansion of existing industries and the construction of new rehabilitated facilities.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article.

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