Bad 40B projects shouldn’t be rubberstamped

January 2, 2011

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PAUL MCMORROW’S op-ed piece of Dec. 24 (“Fighting a development, tree by tree’’) is emblematic of the continued holier-than-thou attitude of Chapter 40B supporters.

Those who tried to have 40B repealed acknowledge the need for some form of affordable housing program, but the present one is corrupt; the proposition’s defeat is not a reason to allow bad 40B projects.

In looking at how McMorrow describes the situation, it appears that the facts of a particular 40B development are irrelevant. One of the most important details here is that the Cambridge folks are “environmentalists, joined by members of the left-leaning Cambridge City Council.’’

Perhaps scarier still is that “state environmental officials have dismissed concerns about potential impacts on nearby wetlands and wildlife, since nearly half the project site will become permanent conservation space.’’

So it is OK to destroy part of a wetland despite the fact that wetlands are protected and can’t be conveniently broken up without deleterious impact?

McMorrow goes on to summarize the big picture: “Overly restrictive zoning, high land values, and construction costs are combining to price working families out of much of eastern Massachusetts.’’

Given that this law has been in existence for 41 years and hasn’t apparently worked yet, how will it suddenly, miraculously help to make Massachusetts affordable? And, does this quote mean that he and the real estate community do not think a 40B-type law is needed in western Massachusetts?

Finally, can anyone with awareness of today’s economic reality seriously say that lack of nearby affordable housing is the most important drag on the economy (as opposed to the existence of jobs)?

Carol Levin