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Ashland was 1 of 67 communities that was recently designated as a “Housing Choice” community by the Baker/Polito Administration.
According to the Baker/Polito administration, the Housing Choice Initiative is “Modeled after Massachusetts’ successful Green Communities program, The Housing Choice Initiative will provide a powerful new set of incentive-based tools for local governments. The Housing Choice Initiative will reward communities that are producing new housing units and have adopted best practices to promote sustainable housing development, use land efficiently, protect natural resources and conserve energy, with a new Housing Choice designation. The Housing Choice Designation is designed to be simple, flexible and achievable for municipalities. Cities and towns that receive the Housing Choice Designation will be eligible for new financial resources, including exclusive access to new Housing Choice Capital Grants, and preferential treatment for many state grant and capital funding programs, including MassWorks, Complete Streets, MassDOT capital projects and PARC and LAND grants. “
According to Town Manager Michael Herbert, the Housing Choice designation will also help us achieve the affordable housing goals necessary to stave off 40b development applications that have the ability to curtail local zoning regulations. Currently Ashland’s “affordable” housing stock is at 6.2% of total housing units (this percentage will be lower after the successful acquisition of the Valentine Estate), well short of the 10% required under Chapter 40b, and well behind surrounding towns like Hopkinton (14.2%), Southborough (13.7%), and Framingham (10.5%). By using tools such as inclusionary zoning, smart growth principles, and redevelopment of existing properties, we should be able to make progress towards these affordable housing requirements while still maintaining the quality of life that we expect in Ashland and protecting some of our more bucolic settings and vistas.