The flummox of FLUM

The gavel came down on our final meeting of the 2019 fiscal year at 11:34 p.m. last Wednesday night. Community members packed the auditorium at Town Hall at the beginning of the meeting for various last-minute petitions, and many town residents stayed almost all the way to the end to weigh in on the Future Land Use Map.

The FLUM, as we call it affectionately, colors in parcels of land based on the intended density. It’s not legally binding, but it provides a rationale for council decisions to upzone land for redevelopment. For more than a year, town staff have been reaching out to the community to gather reactions and ideas for what the town should look like in 2049. At one point the staff member leading the FLUM and LUMO rewrite (aka the Land Use Management Ordinance) reported collecting comments from nearly 1,500 people.

I expect that nearly all of them responded with something along the lines of: Pay attention to the carrying capacity of the land. Don’t clearcut all the trees; don’t flood our homes; don’t tie us up in traffic jams.

Yet the map we reviewed last week had encroached on many single-family-home neighborhoods by replacing houses with apartment buildings six stories high and taller. Many of those neighborhoods are relatively affordable. Residents of those houses objected.

Ironically, earlier in the evening we had reviewed town staff’s plan for affordable rental housing. The upshot of that discussion was that it was going to be very difficult to wring more affordable units from developers. If we wanted housing for a workforce earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income, likely the subsidy would come from taxpayers.

We, on council, need to think through any unintended consequences and be consistent. We can’t ask taxpayers to subsidize housing to make it affordable to many who work in town while at the same time taking away the older homes that currently provide that workforce housing.

— Nancy Oates

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Field

     /  July 2, 2019

    Wow — that makes two Mayors in a row working really hard for developers —