Quarterly Newsletter
November 2022
SRPEDD Hosts Webinars in Partnership with Mass Housing Partnership and the “3A-TA” Initiative
SRPEDD’s Comprehensive Planning team recently hosted two webinars for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP)’s “3A-TA” trainings. This nine-part series – entitled “More Than Compliance: Multifamily Districts That Work in Your Community” – supports cities and towns as they seek to comply with the new MBTA Community guidelines, Section 3A of Chapter 40A. SRPEDD is honored to be able to assist with this initiative. 

We created our first session, “Exploring Housing at Different Densities,” in collaboration with Judi Barrett of Barrett Planning Group. The StoryMap presentation tours several multi-family housing developments from across the MBTA Communities region. It features drone and street-level photos and videos, maps, and descriptions of high-quality projects at greater than 15 units per acre (UPA) – the density required by Section 3A. These developments demonstrate that “density can be beautiful” – and that thoughtfully planned, carefully sited housing can help communities comply with Section 3A while also complementing other community development goals. You can watch a video of the presentation here.

Our second session, “Siting Your District for Adjacent Communities,” examines various techniques that can be used to help decide where to locate multi-family zoning districts in your community. It is especially relevant in situations where there are no requirements to be met under Section 3A Guidelines. The combination of approaches that appear in the presentation – ranging from GIS “Suitability Scoring” to hand-drawn maps – can help communities organize their priorities, explore different scenarios, and test their location decisions using a variety of good data. A recording of this presentation is available here.

SRPEDD would like to thank MHP for allowing us to participate in 3A-TA; the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for their guidance and resources; and our municipal partners for contributing their valuable insights to the Section 3A process. For more information, please reach out to SRPEDD’s Taylor Perez.
Westport/Dartmouth Route 6 Corridor Study 
Based on safety concerns sparked by fatal crashes and the changing needs of the corridor, the towns of Dartmouth and Westport, in collaboration with MassDOT, requested that SRPEDD perform a study of the state-owned Route 6 corridor. The overall goal of the study is to examine alternatives that improve travel conditions and equity for all users (regardless of age, ability, and socioeconomic status) and build consensus towards a more livable corridor. 

SRPEDD performed an in-depth analysis of the corridor from the Westport/Fall River line to the intersection of Cross Road and Route 6 in Dartmouth. Results highlighted the lack of facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians, the difficulty in navigating intersections, high crash locations, high traffic speeds, poor bus stop conditions, and difficult crossing conditions for all users. These concerns were further informed by input from stakeholders, businesses along the corridor and residents in both communities.
At the time of this newsletter, SRPEDD is in the process of presenting recommendations to stakeholder groups for input. After feedback is received and incorporated, SRPEDD will host a second round of public engagement meetings to discuss improvement options. For further information, please contact Jackie Jones at jjones@srpedd.org
SRPEDD Receives EPA Brownfields Community Assessment Grant 
We are pleased to announce that SRPEDD has received a three-year EPA Brownfields Community Assessment Grant. The grant will enable brownfield site environmental evaluation and community reuse planning activities at up to ten sites in several adjacent sub-watersheds connecting the Ten Mile River to Mount Hope Bay, comprised of areas in Plainville, North Attleborough, Attleboro, Seekonk and Swansea. To date, SRPEDD staff have convened a project Steering Committee with membership from these communities and related state agencies. Grant work is focused around two main types of work. First, SRPEDD will hire a firm to act as the project’s Environmental Professional, conducting 10 Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), 7 Phase II ESAs, and 5 Site Clean Up Plans. Second, SRPEDD staff will conduct a series of reuse planning activities in-house, including Land Use Assessments, Infrastructure Evaluations, Resource Roadmaps, one Site Reuse Assessment, and one Site Reuse Vision.

The breadth of work that this grant enables allows for the investigation of and attention to selected brownfield sites, regardless of their current status. Sites at the very beginning of the process, where no environmental assessment has yet taken place, will gain the benefit of an initial evaluation, starting their journey on the path to cleanup, recovery, and reuse. At sites where local action has already advanced cleanup past the initial evaluation phase, the community planning work component will allow for a comprehensive and detailed, publicly engaged site visioning process, considering specific reuse options, and determining those that are most attractive and beneficial to the local community. After the Environmental Professional is brought on board in early January, specific site selection within the target watersheds will take place, with further updates to come. 
Regional Analysis of Open Space and Residential Design Bylaws Launched
Does Open Space Residential Design (OSRD) development happen in your community? SRPEDD is launching a study to find out and to understand more about the use of this alternative development model throughout our region. Also known as “Cluster” or “Natural Resource Protection” zoning, OSRD bylaws allow developers to create a subdivision with smaller lot sizes, so long as they place the balance of the project’s overall land into permanent land preservation. Developers win by being able to create the same amount of house lots, and in some cases the flexibility to add more, as they would under conventional lot layouts, and communities win by having land preservation accompany development.
Throughout this two-year project, SRPEDD will review existing OSRD-related bylaws in the region for low impact development design principles (using Mass Audubon’s Bylaw Review Tool) and compile a regional database of bylaws. SRPEDD will conduct one-on-one interviews with communities to discuss their bylaws and compile a list of regional challenges to adopting and implementing bylaws and potential solutions. For two case study communities, the towns of Dighton and Middleborough, SRPEDD will review and recommend updates to each town’s bylaw and work with each town to prepare and pass an updated version, providing guidance and support as needed to educate the public and town staff on the provisions of the new bylaw. The culmination of this work will be a region-wide peer-to-peer learning event, where all communities interested in revising or adopting OSRD bylaws can participate and learn about best practices and strategies for implementing a successful bylaw.  

Communities interested in getting involved can reach out to Danica Belknap at dbelknap@srpedd.org. 
The Sowams Heritage Area Project
The Sowams Heritage Area Project (SHAP) tells the American origin story from the perspective of the people of the Pokanoket Nation. Working in close collaboration with the Pokanoket Tribal Council, the SHAP represents a coalition of communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that once comprised the ancestral homeland of (Massasoit) Ousamequin, the chief of the Pokanoket confederation, who forged a peaceful alliance with the English for more than fifty years before the onset of the King Philip's War.  

For 10,000 years, the watershed of the Taunton River fed Sowams, the indigenous name for fertile homeland of the Pokanoket people. The Sowams extended from present day Somerset, and included Rehoboth, Swansea, Seekonk, Warren, Bristol, Barrington, East Providence, and Providence. Situated between the northeastern shore of Narragansett Bay and the Taunton River watershed, Sowams was enriched by a vast network of tributaries that provided access to both fresh and salt water, an abundance of fish and game, and a climate that was milder than the northern inland regions.  

The goal of the project is to gain Congressional approval to designate Sowams a National Heritage Area (NHA), “where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.” Under the auspices of the National Park Service (NPS), the National Heritage Area program is a grassroots community-driven approach to cultural heritage conservation and economic development. 

The all-volunteer SHAP Steering Committee reflects a diverse group of community, business and governmental leaders from the cities and towns that comprise Sowams, including the leaders of the Pokanoket Tribe/Nation, the Blackstone National Heritage Corridor, state and municipal tourism directors, town planners, and nonprofit organizations such as the Warren Land Trust in Warren, RI and the Carpenter Museum in Rehoboth, MA. Town Planner John Hansen and local historian Jay Bowen represent the Town of Swansea on the Committee. The Somerset Historical Society curates an extensive collection of Indigenous artifacts, which add to the cultural resources on the northeastern shores of Narragansett Bay. SRPEDD’s Environmental Department has also been welcomed into this coalition having previously worked with NPS and the Pokanoket and Pocasset on the federal Wild & Scenic River designation of the Taunton River. 

The first step in the NHA nomination process is to conduct a comprehensive and inclusionary feasibility study to determine the viability of National Heritage Area designation. Partial funding in the amount of $25,000 has already been awarded for this purpose through the National Trust for Historic “Telling the Full History” Grant Program, which interprets historic places of importance to under-represented communities. If approved by Congress, the Sowams Heritage Area would be the first NHA to be exclusively designated for indigenous people. 

 For more information on the Sowams and the SHAP, please visit the amazing website put together by Dave Weed at www.SowamsHeritageArea.org.
Congratulations to Mansfield for becoming the Region's Newest Green Community
Mansfield was recognized in a ceremony on November 7, 2022, for becoming the newest community in the region to achieve Green Community designation. From 2021-2022, the town developed its Energy Reduction Plan, passed the stretch code, and completed all other necessary requirements for becoming a Green Community. The town's Energy Reduction Plan, when implemented, would reduce town's energy usage by 20,191 MMBTUs annually, the equivalent greenhouse gas savings of removing 422 passenger cars from the road. Congratulations, Mansfield!
SRPEDD Tables at Bridgewater State University’s GIS Day Event
SRPEDD staff members Amber Davis, Joseph Osborne, Kevin Ham, and Taylor Perez recently tabled at Bridgewater State University for World GIS Day, a day dedicated to celebrating geographic information systems and its critical role in many different fields. The tabling session featured booths from a variety of different GIS practitioners, including NOAA and the National Weather Service.

Thanks to BSU and Dr. Darcy Boellstorff for inviting us to participate and giving us the opportunity to speak with students and faculty.
Taunton School District and SRPEDD to Create ASHE Response Tools for City Schools
SRPEDD’s Homeland Security Department is proud to announce a partnership with the City of Taunton School District to create an Active Shooter/Hostile Event (ASHE) Response Tool for all 12 Taunton Schools. This work – which began over Veteran’s Day weekend at Taunton High School – will take place over the coming year and result in both physical and digital deliverables that would aid first responders in the event of an emergency at any school facility. The need for pre-incident planning, detailed and clearly labeled building floor plans, and other pre-planned mutual aid has been clearly established by “After-Action Reports” for ASHEs across the country. This project seeks to meet that need through a low-cost, functional product that aligns with existing emergency plans and procedures in Taunton.

SRPEDD will work directly with School Department Officials and City police, fire, EMS, and emergency management personnel. We will build upon the techniques, workflows, and best practices established during SRPEDD’s recent ASHE Response Tool project with Old Rochester Regional (ORR) High School.

SRPEDD is honored to complete this work with the City of Taunton. Our goal is to help create a safe, well-prepared region. For more information, please visit the Southeast Region Homeland Security Council website and contact SRPEDD’s Homeland Security team.
SRPEDD to Partner with the MBTA and Southeast Mass Communities to Update Priority Development Areas and Priority Protection Areas
The pending completion of South Coast Rail, anticipated in late 2023, isn’t just about transit connections and the return of commuter rail to Southeast Mass. It’s also about understanding evolving needs and continuing to plan in accordance with identified area priorities.

Roughly a decade ago, from 2012 to 2013, a coalition of communities and state agencies worked together to update Priority Development Areas (PDAs) and Priority Protection Areas (PPAs) across the state. These straightforward land use designations started with cities and towns – communities simply mapped where they wanted to grow and where they wanted to conserve. Next, regional planning agencies (RPAs), including SRPEDD, and various state agencies worked from local designations to identify those community priority areas that were the most important from a regional and Commonwealth-wide perspective.

At all levels – local, regional, and state – this work involved over 100 meetings and working sessions, collaboration, significant GIS and policy analysis, and extensive civic engagement, resulting in development of a Community Priority Areas of Regional Significance plan.

SRPEDD is pleased to announce the opportunity to once again partner with the MBTA and Southeast Mass communities in updating the PDA and PPA plan. The work is scheduled to begin in early 2023 and will take place in the 23 communities that currently are or soon will be subject to the new Section 3A of Chapter 40A.

Just as was done in 2013, the 2023 project team will rely on a combination of local knowledge and community goals, high-quality mapping, and a transparent public process. This time around, we also hope to add modern outreach techniques (such as online maps and educational videos), visualizations for key sites, and straightforward implementation strategies.

In early 2023, SRPEDD staff will reach out to area Boards of Selectmen, Mayors and City Councils, Planning Boards and Conservation Commissions, among others, to officially launch the update initiative – and to commence scheduling of key input and working sessions with each community.

We look forward to partnering with all of you again to solicit your insights and exchange information, identify and compare notes on changes that have taken place since the development of the last plan, and confer on area priorities and land uses in your communities and the region at large.
The Regional Transportation Plan - Moving Forward to 2050
Is there an intersection that you are hesitant about because you’ve had a close call or two there? Are there locations that you prefer to avoid at specific times of the day owing to delays, bottlenecks or congestion? Would you like to see more sidewalks or bike paths near your home? Are you concerned about increasing flooding in some sections of roadway and how climate change is affecting other locations in our transportation network? Is there enough bus service near your home or workplace? Please let us know by taking our survey for the upcoming Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). 
The RTP is a wide-ranging review of our transportation needs for the next 25 years to the year 2050 and is completed every 4 years. The RTP is a year-long project that will be completed in 2023. 
As with every such update, the first step in this process is outreach and engagement with the people who live and work in this region. This outreach has already gotten underway with the recent offering of a series of webinars on Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation, Rethinking Safety, Driving economic Development, and on road-stream crossings called Where the River Meets the Road, each of which can be found on the agency's YouTube channel.  Please check them out if you haven't already had a chance to see them.
The upcoming Regional Transportation Plan update is an opportunity to participate in the process of planning and improving our region's vital transportation system, and share your insights and expertise. We look forward to receiving your input by way of a brief survey. It will only take a few minutes and greatly help us in planning for a better future for our region! 
Employment Opportunities at SRPEDD

Come join our fast-paced office, and creative, collegial, and growing team!

SRPEDD is hiring and looking to fill the following positions, depending upon qualifications:

· Principal Transportation Planner
· Senior Transportation Planner
· Transportation Outreach Planner
· Homeland Security Specialist
· GIS and Data Specialist
· Community and Economic Development Planner
· Urban Designer and Planner
· Public Engagement and Communications Specialist

Not only is Southeastern Massachusetts a great place to live and work, with four dynamic gateway cities and twenty-three historic towns across a diverse and beautiful 808-square mile region, with good schools, abundant outdoor offerings, inviting beaches, and myriad cultural amenities; but for planners looking to engage in a wide and growing range of substantive and meaningful projects, to apply and refine their talents, to partner with dedicated area leaders and residents, and to contribute to advancing the region and preserving and enhancing its quality of life, SRPEDD is the place to be.

Join us!

Please check out the agency’s website for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!
88 Broadway
Taunton, MA 02780
Phone: 508-824-1367
Fax: 508-823-1803