I actually found out from Councilor Herzog that some citizens are calling for the repeal of CPA.
Thankfully, the Faustian deal struck by the Dark Side has made such calls powerless. The deal was that if a bond was floated for the common pasture, a bond would be floated to repair City Hall. This project should have been done as part of the City’s budget. Now bond payments stretching for years have fixed CPA firmly into Newburyport. No one can repeal it and no one can reduce the surcharge. Period.
Why, you may ask, would someone want to stop it? Empowerment is the answer. There are developers and their supporters who are furious about CPA.
Developers make huge financial purchase and sale agreements with weary farmers and holders of open space, dangling dollar signs before the property owner’s faces. When agricultural lands come up for sale, per state law, the city has 120 days option to buy the land and save the precious commodity. Usually the developer laughs himself silly as the municipality stands by helpless. With CPA and the Open Space Fund, they laugh no more. Historic agricultural lands are saved, watersheds are preserved and the entire community is not stressed with higher taxes as more housing and infrastructure choke its boundaries. Now that’s empowerment.
Developers and their supporters want to do the same with affordable housing. A city can resist overdevelopment by aggresively seeking it’s required 10% of affordable housing, but it needs money, lots of it. Without reaching that threshhold, projects can be pushed through using 40B. A 40B can disregard infrastructure requirements, water demands, zoning, community threshholds, etc. the developer runs roughshod over the citizens. Thanks to CPA, the city has started that fight by the creation of the Affordable Housing Trust.
And I am happy to say the CPC tonight voted to take $100,000 of its affordable housing reserve and transfer it to the Trust. They are even open to giving more money this year since they are obligated to devote at least 10% toward affordable housing. Now that’s empowerment.
How anyone can be against a tax that has had five glorious years of benefit (and in which we get matching funds from the state!) makes me wonder their motives.
And of course, as a P. Preservationist, I haven’t even gone into the benefits to our historic buildings, our public parks and our heritge tourism. Plus, financiers have given our City top ratings because they are fully aware of CPA. Regional planners speak about Newburyport in hushed, respected tones. CPA has made us a regional powerhouse.
Listen, I hate taxes too but there is a big difference between taxes that go to some bureaucracy or pays for some lazy state workers’ pension and taxes that I can see directly benefiting our community. CPA is here to stay!