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11.10.07 November 9, 2007 Legislative Breakfast

On Friday, November 9th, NSAR sponsored its 4th Legislative Breakfast in 2007, attended by State Senator Steven Baddour (D-1st Essex) and State Representative Harriett Stanley (D-2nd Essex).

The Breakfast was held at ABC Home Inspections, Inc. and ABC Real Estate Training Institute in Haverhill; NSAR would like to thank Affiliate Member Andy Consoli for allowing us to use his conference room and facilities (seen here).

MAR Associate Counsel, Margy Grant, presented the five legislative topics on the agenda and gave the legislators the Realtor® position on each issue. These issues included:

1. Transfer Taxes. Realtors® oppose real estate transfer taxes as bad tax policy for several reasons including: a community wide responsibility should be paid for by the entire community; a transfer tax is inequitable and discriminatory as it singles out a small segment of the population [specifically home buyers & sellers] to pay for a community wide need; a transfer tax is exclusionary because it would increase the cost of home ownership; a transfer tax would be an unstable source of revenue due to the instability of the real estate market; a transfer tax would subvert the Proposition 2 ½ override process; the state legislature has already given cities and towns many equitable tools to create affordable and workforce housing through passage of Community Preservation Act, Chapter 40B, and Chapter 40R and 40S.

2. An Act Protecting Children from Poisoning. Proposed legislation SB. 1230 would (a) require lead inspections on all sales of property, instead of at the buyer’s option; (b) require owners and sellers of property to abate lead in soil and tap water; and (c) require letters of compliance for rental units to be renewed every two years, regardless of whether children reside in the unit, or whenever there is a change in occupancy, if that is earlier.

3. An Act Providing Information to Real Estate Buyers. Proposed legislation H. 323, S. 201 is a little unclear but seems to suggest that a homeowner would be expected to review the databases of nearly a dozen different governmental agencies and then create some type of report or hire and pay someone to do it for them. It is not clear how many millions of dollars this could cost Massachusetts homeowners every year or that buyers and sellers could review this data and provide an accurate assessment of what implications, if any, information on one of these databases would have on a home.

4. An Act Relative to the Disclosure of Wetlands on Property. Proposed legislation H. 767 seeks to require that a real estate broker disclose to prospective buyers that a property to be sold may be in its entirety, or in part a wetland as defined in Chapter 131 of the General Laws of or any other regulation or local by-law of the municipality where the property is located. It is the Realtor® position that however well intentioned this proposal may be, it would create an impossible standard for real estate licensees to meet and generate confusion for consumers.

5. An Act Relative to Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund (S. 132) and An Act Relative to Financing the Smart Growth Housing Trust (H. 160). Realtors® support both these bills, as it would create a steady stream of revenue to support the continued success of 40R Smart Growth districts.

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11.7.07 Route 128 Noise Barriers in Danvers Planned

The Danvers Herald reports that discussions of noise barriers along Route 128 in Danvers, spanning the area between the High Street and Elliot Street exchanges, have progressed to the point of addressing what types of appearances residents prefer, as plans to improve the safety of the highway are set in motion.

The noise barriers are a component of a much bigger venture − the Route 128 Safety Improvement Project, a two-phase plan expected to cost the state a total of $65 million and span approximately five years, with construction likely to begin in 2009. The noise barriers constitute just over $5 million dollars.

Read the entire Danvers Herald article

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11.7.07 Restriction in Andover Could Preserve 50 Acres of Open Space Forever

The Andover Townsman reported that a breathtaking 50 acres of open space between Routes 133 and 28, owned by family of William Wood, the mastermind behind Shawsheen Village, could be preserved in perpetuity.

There is a legally binding proposal between the Wood family and The Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts charitable corporation, which must be approved by Andover’s Conservation Commission, Board of Selectmen and the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. According to the article, the conservation restriction is expected to help preserve the historic character of Shawsheen Square while also preventing an increase in flooding from the Shawsheen River.

Read the entire Andover Townsman article

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11.7.07 Newburyport Looks for $450,000 for Harborwalk

The Newburyport Daily Times reported that Newburyport officials are hoping to get $450,000 from the Seaport Advisory Council to fund the connection of a trail from Cashman Park, underneath Route 1, to the so-called Waterfront West − the area between the Black Cow restaurant and Michael's Harborside. That connection will, in turn, link the commuter rail station to the downtown district.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily Times article

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11.6.07 Affordable Housing in North Essex County

According to the Newburyport Daily News, here is breakdown of affordable housing percentages in many of the Northern Essex County communities:

Amesbury 11.1%
Georgetown 13.9%
Groveland 3.5%
Merrimac 6.5%
Newbury 3.6%
Newburyport 8.4%
Rowley 4.4%
Salisbury 8.3%
West Newbury 1.8%

SOURCE: State Department of Housing and Community Development

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11.6.07 Chapter 40B Under Attack

The Newburyport Daily News reported that in addition to Topsfield and Hamilton, Salisbury and several other Cape Ann cities and towns are joining in the fight against Chapter 40B, the state’s “anti-snob” zoning law that requires communities to have at least 10% of their housing stock at affordable prices, and allows developers to bypass local building restrictions if the project includes 20-25% affordable units in those communities that don’t meet the threshold.

According to the article, Salisbury Town Manager Neil Harrington, Selectman Jerry Klima and about 50 other officials from across the state attended a recent seminar organized by the Municipal Coalition for Affordable Housing, whose mission is to put towns and cities in control of how affordable housing is developed in their communities, instead of following the Commonwealth’s Chapter 40B housing law.

Also, separately there is a group called The Coalition for the Repeal of 40B, which is trying to collect about 66,000 signatures to get a repeal proposal on next year’s statewide ballot. Salisbury officials don’t want to go that far. The Coalition for the Repeal of 40B is reportedly about halfway to its goal.

Read the entire Newburyport Daily News article

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