Two years after appointing a study committee to explore adoption of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in South Hadley, the Selectboard has now accepted that committee’s report and is seeking community input on its contents and recommendations. The Selectboard voted September 15th to accept the report and will have discussion of the report’s recommendations on its agenda on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Residents are encouraged to review the report and submit comments, if desired, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The CPA allows communities to establish a Community Preservation Fund to be used for open space protection, historic preservation, creation of affordable housing and development of outdoor recreational facilities. Money for eligible projects is raised by imposing up to a 3% surcharge on property taxes.
The Massachusetts Community Preservation Act was signed into law by Governor Paul Cellucci and Lieutenant Governor Jane Swift in September of 2000. Since its passage, 158 communities (45% of the Commonwealth’s cities and towns) have adopted the CPA. A municipality adopts CPA by passage of a ballot question at the voting booth by a simple majority of town voters. The town’s legislative body (Town Meeting) must first approve putting the question on the ballot. Of South Hadley’s closest neighbors, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton and Southampton have adopted the CPA while Holyoke, Granby, Chicopee, Ludlow and Springfield have not.
South Hadley has considered adoption of the CPA twice before. In April of 2001, the Selectboard appointed a 15-member CPA study committee. This committee researched the act and recommended against its adoption, so the issue was never presented to Town Meeting. In July of 2006, a new study committee was appointed. This five-member group unanimously recommended adoption of the act with an exemption for the first $100,000 in property from the surcharge. In April of 2007, Town Meeting voted to put acceptance of the CPA on the ballot, but the measure was defeated by a vote of 1,257 to 1,121 at the Annual Town Election in April of 2008.