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20th CPTC Annual Conference
Saturday, March 16th at Holy Cross College, Worcester


Registration is required. Registration closes at 5 pm on March 12, 2024. The fee for the Annual Conference is $95. Payment and cancellation policy is below.

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1. Roles and Responsibilities of Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals (MIIA)

Join us if you are a new Board member or building inspector. This program will launch you into your role as a local official, introduce you to the functions of the two boards and the main tools of planning and zoning. This session will also include an introductory discussion of the Open Meeting, Public Records, and the Conflict-of-Interest Laws. 

2. Vested Rights and Nonconforming Uses and Structures (MIIA)

This course will cover the issue of vested rights under zoning and subdivision law, why they exist, and how they affect the work of the Zoning Boards of Appeals and Planning Boards. Participants will learn what the Zoning Act says about vested rights and the way it occurs. This session will answer the question regarding whether nonconforming structures and uses can change and if so, how much. Finally, the course will address how judicial decisions shape the way provisions of the Zoning Act are interpreted today.

  • Speaker: Barbara J. Saint André, Esq., Director, Community and Economic Development, Town of Medway
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3. Building Climate Resilience – Massachusetts’ Plans and Resources for Communities CM 1.5

Communities across Massachusetts are already seeing the impacts of climate change, from coastal erosion to inland flooding affecting homes, businesses, and agriculture, to extended heat waves and more frequent droughts.  The Commonwealth is a leader in climate action.  Learn about ResilientMass, the statewide hazard mitigation plan, the ResilientCoasts strategy, and the newly established Office of Climate Science and Community Climate Advisory Panel. Undersecretary Antos will also discuss enhancements to the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program to advance environmental justice, pursue nature-based solutions to climate risks, and increase access to state resources.

  • Speaker: Katherine Antos, Undersecretary for Decarbonization and Resilience, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)
  • Moderator: EHeidi Ricci, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mass Audubon, CPTC Board member
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4. The Legal Landscape for Firearms Bylaws and Regulations CM 1.5

Firearms bylaws and regulations are traditionally a source of angst. With a Constitutional overlay and a web of often changing laws and court decisions, drafting firearms bylaws and guiding discussion around them is no easy task. Join a lawyer talking about guns for no money to better understand the often-changing legal landscape for firearms bylaws and regulations.

5. Planning with Community Support (MIIA) CM 1.5

The course describes how to conduct a planning process, with an emphasis on a comprehensive or master plan that will ultimately have the support of the community. A variety of public participation strategies will be examined, including plan implementation processes. The course will cover how to design the community engagement process and will include information on controlling meetings and managing participants.

6. Site Plan Review (MIIA) CM 1.5

The Zoning Act does not contain any provisions for the review of site plans, however the process can be a very effective tool for a board to review the details, aesthetics and impacts of a potential project. This course explains the legal issues when using site plan review; the difference between site plan approval and special permits; the review process; the types of conditions a board may impose; the reasons for disapproval; the appeal process and the types of information a municipality can require to be shown on a site plan. Additional material will be presented on how to incorporate site plan review into your zoning bylaw or ordinance.


7. Special Permits and Variances (MIIA)

Participants will learn about the difference between special permits and variances; the issues and criteria for decision-making; and procedural requirements. Additionally, the course will discuss who has the authority to issue special permits and variances and how judicial decisions guide the way we work with them.

8. Introduction to the Subdivision Control Law (MIIA)

This session addresses the purposes of the Subdivision Control Law and the Planning Board’s authority under the Act. It also covers important procedural requirements and board responsibilities when reviewing subdivision and ANR plans; adoption of subdivision regulations; review of ANR plans; access issues; preliminary and definitive plans; Planning Board waivers; modifying, amending, and rescinding plans; enforcement; vested rights and zoning freezes.

9. Laurel and Hardy Go to Planning School  CM 1.5

Planning is serious business, but sometimes we need to look at it on the lighter side. We’ll review some of the things that you can’t learn in “planning school”, but we need to survive as planning professionals in Massachusetts.  Bring your own war stories to share! Final exam is optional.

  • Speakers: Barbara J. Saint André, Esq., Director, Community and Economic Development, Town of Medway; Judi Barrett, Principal, Barrett Planning Group
  • Moderator: Maren A. Toohill, AICP, Town Planner, Town of Littleton, CPTC Board member
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10. Community One Stop for Growth CM 1.5

Learn about this year’s updates and new features in the Community One Stop for Growth, the state’s single application portal to access funding from 12 different community economic development programs that make targeted grant investments based on a Development Continuum. The Executive Office of Economic Development (EOED) partners with the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC), and Massachusetts Development Finance Agency (MassDevelopment) to carry out this cross-agency effort. This coordinated process is designed to provide a more streamlined experience for applicants and to make the programs more accessible to all types of organizations, large and small, in all regions of the state.

  • Speakers: Juan R. Vega, Assistant Secretary for Communities and Programs, Executive Office of Economic Development (EOED); Patrick Shannon, AICP, Community One Stop Coordinator, EOED
  • Moderator: Jacqueline McPherson, AICP, Senior Program Manager, EOED, CPTC Board member 
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11. Overview of Recent Changes and New Developments in Massachusetts Cannabis Law  CM 1.5

Recent years have seen numerous changes to cannabis law in Massachusetts, and it is important for planners and other municipal officials to remain up to date as they review new applications and navigate relationships with existing operators.  Attorney Heep will review the current state of the law, with an eye towards equipping planners to deal with issues they are likely to deal with in 2024 and beyond, including siting, host community agreements and social equity requirements.       

12. MBTA Communities Zoning: How Communities are Getting it Done! CM 1.5

Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) staff will provide an overview of the MBTA Communities multi-family zoning requirement, and share answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about compliance. Consultants Emily Innes and Eric Halvorsen will offer specific case studies showing how multi-family districts can be shaped that comply with the law and benefit the community.

  • Speaker: Nate Carlucci, MBTA Communities Compliance Coordinator, Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC); Emma Snellings, Regional Planner, EOHLC; Emily Keys Innes, AICP, LEED, AP, ND, President, Innes Associates, Ltd.; Eric Halvorsen, VP and Principal, RKG Associates
  • Moderator: Katharine Lacy, AICP, Senior Planner, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, CPTC Board member
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13. Fair Housing Laws (MIIA) CM 1.5

Fair housing laws regulate the development, leasing, buying and selling of real estate, as well as state and municipal housing programs, and aspects of municipal land use. This module will describe how land use regulations have been (and continue to be) used to exclude groups from specific neighborhoods and properties, and provide a detailed overview of federal and state laws intended to prevent discrimination and promote equity in housing. A special focus will be on the role of the municipality in enforcing a commitment to fair housing, and the potential consequences of not doing so.

  • Speaker: Jenny Raitt, Executive Director, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments
  • Moderator: Kelly Lynema, Deputy Director, Northern Middlesex Council of Governments
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14. Creating Master Plans (MIIA) CM 1.5

Local officials will learn why and how to prepare, adopt, and implement the master or comprehensive plan described in MGL Chapter 41, Section 81D. The session will identify the sections of a master/comprehensive plan and specific steps by which the plan will be carried out.  

15. Community Planning for Solar – Case Law, Bylaw Approval, and Resources CM 1.5

This workshop provides information and resources for communities planning to update local zoning bylaws on siting of solar and related battery systems.  One important consideration is compliance with MGL Ch. 40A S.3., which prohibits the unreasonable regulation of solar facilities.  Case law and decisions by the Attorney General’s Office on recently adopted bylaws will be reviewed.  Resources for community planning for solar will also be shared.

  • Speaker: Margaret J. Hurley, Esq., Chief of the Municipal Law Unit, Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General; E. Heidi Ricci, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mass Audubon, CPTC Board member
  • Moderator: EHeidi Ricci, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Mass Audubon, CPTC Board member
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16. Smart Growth Toolkit: Update and Discussion

This session will help the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs make important decisions about the content and format of a new iteration of its Planning & Zoning Toolkit.  The previous Toolkit, retired after 10+ years of use, contained more than 25 elements, each focused on a particular planning or zoning technique including transit-oriented development, accessory dwelling units, solar zoning, natural resource protection zoning, and mixed-use development.  For each element the Toolkit provided model zoning, explanatory slides, case studies, etc. This interactive session will gather future user input to help shape a new Toolkit of greatest value to the Massachusetts planning community.

  • Speaker: Kurt Gaertner, Assistant. Secretary for Environmental Policy, Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs
  • Moderator:
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17. Permitting and Preserving Affordable Units:  Resources for Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Boards (MIIA) CM 1.5

This session will help planning board members understand key issues in permitting and preserving affordable housing units.  Creating and maintaining affordable units can be a maze-like process and understanding key factors at the beginning of the process can be critical to long-term success.  This session will cover issues around income levels, rental and sale pricing; approaches to local preference; how to get units counted on the SHI, what works for affordable unit layouts and size relative to fair housing, and how to provide ongoing oversight to maintain long-term affordability.

  • Speaker: Lynne D. Sweet, Founder and Principal, LDS Consulting Group; Gregg McBride, Chair, Norwell Community Trust
  • Moderator:
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18. Planning for Historic Preservation: Moving from Reactive to Proactive CM 1.5

While many communities value their character and historic resources, they often do not plan for them in the same way that they plan for new developments or to protect open space. Local historical and historic district commissions and other residents are often left scrambling when a new development threatens a beloved historic resource. But there are a number of tools available, from planning processes to zoning protections, that can proactively identify and protect a community’s historic resources.

This session will cover the basics of the historic preservation field in Massachusetts and then review ways local planners and land use boards can best support historic preservation efforts in their communities. Ideally, communities will be proactive in protecting their historic resources, incorporating protections for these important resources smoothly into the local planning and development processes.

  • Speaker: Jennifer Doherty, Local Government Programs Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Commission
  • Moderator:
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Conference Policies

  • The 2024 CPTC Annual Conference is an in-person event.  Workshops will not be recorded.   
  • Continental breakfast and buffet lunch are included.  Please contact coordinator@masscptc.org with any dietary restrictions.  
  • Payment is available by check or credit card (cc available online at the time of registration only).  Checks can arrive after the registration deadline.   Please make checks payable to CPTC and mail to:  Citizen Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC), c/o Urban Harbors Institute, University of Massachusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125.
  • Cancelation Policy: Registering for the conference is a commitment to attend.  Payment is required unless a written cancelation request is received by the CPTC Coordinator at coordinator@masscptc.org by Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.  No refunds will be processed after March 12, 2024. 
  • Please contact coordinator@masscptc.org with any questions.  

Disclaimer

The use of the facilities of the College of the Holy Cross for this event does not constitute an endorsement by the College. The College of the Holy Cross does not endorse any candidate, or organization, in connection with this or any other political campaign or election.