To the Editor:

From a philosophical point of view, I believe that the 40B statute which allows developers to avoid normal zoning and building restrictions for the purpose of creating “affordable housing” is one of the worst laws ever inflicted upon the towns of Massachusetts.

Why should the Commonwealth be empowered to prohibit municipalities from zoning as they see fit? If a town’s citizens vote to prohibit all multi-unit housing or to establish, say, a five-acre minimum lot size in their own town, then so be it.

As a long time former Milton resident, I read with dismay the articles in last week's Times about the proposed 40B onslaughts to my old home town. These massive projects, some in architecturally significant districts, harbor the danger of seriously damaging the character of Milton.

I am proud to have developed the Burr Estate Condominium on Milton Street in 1980. We took a beautiful 20-acre estate and converted the existing buildings into 20 condominium units, forever preserving the beautifully landscaped parcel.

Today a 40B developer would probably seek 400-plus units on that site, but 40B did not exist in 1980.

I have lived in the Town of Sharon since 2000 and serve on the Conservation Commission and the Community Preservation Committee. After 15 years of maneuvering, we finally raised the money for the town to purchase a parcel of about 340 acres to be forever protected as conservation land. We bought it from a developer who was close to getting approval for as many as 240 40B units.

This would have been impossible without receiving $2 million up front from the Community Preservation Committee, plus an ongoing commitment to service the debt. The total expenditure is over $20 million.

Over the years, our Conservation Commission has arranged the purchase of hundreds of additional acres to be permanently protected. For these reasons, I urge its citizens to have Milton join the Community Preservation Act.

The only way for a town to protect itself from devastating 40B projects is for it to attempt to buy properties that are attractive to such development. Given the slant of our state legislature, I suppose it is possible that some day it may resort to dictatorial measures like eminent domain to even grab protected properties to fuel their social engineering, but not today.

It has worked well for Sharon, allowing the town to prudently control growth, and Sharon has nowhere near the architectural relevance with which Milton has been blessed.

My father, Mike Geller, who owned the Milton Flower Shop for over 50 years, was a Town Meeting member for decades. He understood the dangers of unbridled development and quite frankly, wanted to keep the town as it had been, as did the majority of residents.

He would be appalled to see what is presently being proposed for the town he loved, forced upon it by the Commonwealth. He was not wrong.

– Keevin Geller


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