Testimony on H.1765
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Dear Chairs O’Day and Rausch,
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.1765, An Act to prevent nonprofit institutions from avoiding wetlands or natural resource protections under the so-called Dover Amendment. In order to facilitate a quicker hearing, I opted to submit my testimony in written form, but please do not consider my views to be any less impassioned.
The so-called “Dover Amendment” has been a point of great discourse in the city of Framingham, which houses a significant number of non-profit and state-owned entities, including but not limited to: a state university, a state community college, multiple regional courts (district, juvenile, housing), the Mass Emergency Management Agency headquarters, the State Police headquarters, a nationally renowned specialized school for the deaf, plus over 70 places of worship and non-profit educational entities. In a city of 70,000+ people across ~25 square miles, we find ourselves struggling to balance our business tax rate as non-profit and state-owned entities continue to find Framingham a desirable location to set up shop. During our FY 2020 budget process on the House side, I proposed a study to look at the tax revenue lost by municipalities due to the tax implications of the Dover Amendment, which has not been compiled statewide since 2004.
I believe the bill proposed by my colleague Representative Peter Capano is an excellent first step in examining the Dover Amendment’s far-reaching implications. As we face the ever-looming threat of climate change, cities and towns should reserve the right to preserve our natural resources, including wetlands. Preservation of these resources are necessary to our planet’s ultimate survival, and development from non-profit educational and religious institutions should not be left unfettered. As municipalities aim to achieve designations under the Governor’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, they are specifically asked how they seek to maintain natural resources such as wetlands and watersheds, yet the Dover Amendment allows these institutions unrestricted access to these kinds of resources.
I ask the committee to pass this bill out of committee favorably and encourage continued review of the Dover Amendment in its future endeavors. Please do not hesitate to reach out about this or any other topic.
6th Middlesex District