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Civics Sunday - Part VIII: The Housing Authority and the Planning Board

by The Publishers
April 7, 2019

Part VIII of our Civics Sunday series is the last column that briefly describes Holliston’s elected boards, positions, or committees.  Candidates have submitted their forms to the Town Clerk for this year’s Local Election on May 21, 2019

Part VIII of our Civics Sunday series is the last column that briefly describes Holliston’s elected boards, positions, or committees.  Candidates have submitted their forms to the Town Clerk for this year’s Local Election on May 21, 2019.  We hope that Civics Sunday has helped you to clarify or increase your understanding of the positions candidates seekThis week’s column includes The Housing Authority and the Planning Board.  The following are the available positions:

            The Housing Authority – 1 member 

            The Planning Board – 1 member                  

To review previous Civics Sunday columns, click on a link below:

Part I:  The Town Meeting

Part II:  The Town Moderator and Town Clerk

Part III: The Town Selectmen

Part IV:  The Finance Committee

Part V: The School Committee

Part VI: The Board of Assessors and the Board of Health

Part VII: The Public Library Board of Trustees and the Park Commission


Remember to attend or view live coverage  (HCAT) of our spring Town Meeting on May 6, 2019.   Next week’s Civics Sunday column will cover the appointment process for unelected committee positions.  

Important Note to Candidates: If you wish your Statement of Candidacy published in the Holliston Reporter, it is due to the publishers by April 15, 2019.   For further details, please read: "Calling All Candidates

The Housing Authority

The Massachusetts General Laws provide for the creation of a public body called the Housing Authority, and the state secretary issues a certificate of organization to the town.  The purpose of the Housing Authority is to provide housing for families or elderly people of low income. 

The Holliston Housing Authority mission is prominent on its website: “It is the mission of the Holliston Housing Authority to provide affordable, decent, and secure housing for all.  This mission shall be accomplished by a fiscally responsible, creative organization committed to excellence in public service through responsible management and maintenance of our existing units.  Similarly, forming effective partnerships throughout the community to maximize social and economic opportunities throughout the community.”

The Housing Authority Board of Commissioners has six members that include a Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, an Executive Director, and two other members.  One of the six is appointed by the State, and another is elected in our local elections.  The HA meets on the second Wednesday of every month at the Holliston Housing Authority’s community room located at 492 Washington Street, Cole Court, at 6:00 PM, according to the MGL open meeting law. 

Presently the Housing Authority owns 72 one-bedroom units of State-subsidized housing for the elderly at Cole Court on Washington Street, and 6 units for families with two 2-bedroom, two 3-bedroom, and two 4-bedroom units on Hollis Street.  People who are interested in applying for State housing may get information on qualifications as well as applications on the website (or they may visit the office).

The Planning Board

“Planning boards play a vital role in the development of a municipality by planning for its future and overseeing its development and growth.” (Planning Board Resource Book, 3.)  The MA General Laws state that every city and every town having a population of more than 10,000 create a planning board.  This board will “make careful studies of the resources, possibilities, and needs of the town, particularly with respect to conditions injurious to the public health or otherwise in and about rented dwellings, and make plans for the development of the municipality, with special reference to proper housing of its inhabitants.”

Generally stated, the planning board is responsible for planning, reviewing and deciding on certain types of permits/approvals and for administering the subdivision of land within a municipality.

The Board develops and implements land use regulations through permits and approvals.  This function may involve a benefit and/or a burden between applicants and others affected.   Decisions made by the board have the potential to impact lives and livelihoods, and must be supported by information provided by both the applicant and other interested parties.  Procedural requirements are adhered to so as to provide all with due process.

Additionally, the Board plans for future growth, development and preservation of a town’s resources.  The Planning Board may submit a master plan, and it may also become involved in the zoning amendment process.  The master plan is an important document that illustrates the vision for a town as well as the strategies for how the town may achieve the vision.  The Zoning Act (MGL 40A) comprises the requirements, procedures, and limitations that a town must follow when taking certain land use actions.  The Zoning Act is difficult to read, but it covers many issues a local Planning Board may face.  It is best if members become familiar with this document.  Planning Boards at times initiate the process of designating a local road as “Scenic.”   They may also adopt an official map of the town’s roads and parks.

Article IX of Holliston’s By-Laws designate a Planning Board of five members, each serving a 5-year term, only one of which will expire in any one year.




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Comments (1)

Civics Sunday should be taught in the schools. Informed people are the citizens and voters.

- Henry Dellicker | 4/7/19 9:04 AM



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