Town seeks to ban fossil fuel from new housing construction

By Betsy Levinson - betsy@theconcordbridge.org

Concord Town Meeting approved a bylaw requiring that all new construction be fossil fuel free, and also asked for a home rule petition to implement the requirement.

“We want to be aggressive about pursuing our climate goals,” said Matt Johnson, chair of the Select Board. “This is an easy way to make a very big impact.”

If Concord’s application is approved, the town could “adopt and amend general or zoning ordinances” to ban fossil fuels in new or renovated housing, according to Stephan Bader, a member of the Housing Authority.

The Home Rule Petition was filed on Aug. 10 and is currently pending legislative approval.

Johnson said Concord wants to apply the new bylaw to Concord’s affordable housing stock so that
the town can meet or exceed the state standard of 10 percent of total housing under the affordable umbrella.

Towns that maintain or exceed the 10 percent level are exempt from 40B legislation that allows developers to get around the town’s zoning regulations when building affordable housing.
Town Manager Kerry Lafleur noted, in an Aug. 23 letter to the state Department of Energy Resources, that “Concord has met the 10 percent housing affordability threshold set under Chapter 40B of the General Laws.”

She added that as of the 2010 census, Concord had 10.5 percent of affordable units.
But Johnson said the new census in 2020 may alter the numbers. He said with such a tiny margin, there is concern that the town may fall below the threshold as few new affordable units have been constructed. The 2020 census figures will be released in the spring of 2023.

The other towns asking to participate in the demonstration project are: Acton, Aquinnah, Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Newton and West Tisbury.

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