Governor Deval Patrick's Budget Recommendation - House 1 Fiscal Year 2010

Governor's Budget Recommendation FY 2010

Surplus Property Legislation

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Governor Patrick    FY2010 House 1 Budget Recommendation:
    Policy Brief

    Deval L. Patrick, Governor
    Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor


Governor’s Proposal

As part of fiscal year 2010 House 1 recommendations, the Governor will re-file the Surplus Property Reform Bill originally submitted in fiscal year 2008.  The bill establishes a new, expedited process for disposing of surplus state real property based on smart growth land use policies.  It provides for state-owned properties, which are no longer needed for state purposes, to be used for municipal purposes or for economic development, affordable housing and other uses. 

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray served as the chair of an inter-agency working group including the Executive Offices for Administration and Finance, of Environmental Affairs, and of Housing and Economic Development, and the Division of Capital Asset Management, which developed the Surplus Property Reform Bill.  On March 19, 2008, in a session before the Joint Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, the Lieutenant Governor gave testimony on behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration that demonstrated the Administration’s belief that “this legislation strikes the right balance between the needs of our Commonwealth and of our cities and towns, and will quickly move unused state land into needed uses for economic development, housing, and open space”.

Smart Growth

According to the Sustainable Communities Network, communities across the nation are re-evaluating their current development patterns and determining if specific investments are in the long-term interest of their cities and towns. A smart growth plan focuses on developing an area that maximizes the function of existing resources, while improving or maintaining the quality of life for the residence of the community.  The Network concludes that “driving the smart growth movement are demographic shifts, environmental awareness, increased fiscal concerns, and more nuanced views of growth. The result is both a new demand and a new opportunity for smart growth”[1].  The Commonwealth is leading the way in developing initiatives and exploring opportunities that are consistent with the smart growth principles.  The Surplus Property Reform Bill is one such initiative.

The Surplus Property Legislation:

  • Creates a Surplus Land Coordination Committee to provide recommendations to the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance regarding the disposition of surplus state properties.
  • Gives municipalities a right of first refusal to acquire surplus state properties for municipal use, and at a discounted price, early in the disposition process.
  • Gives municipalities that do not exercise the right of first refusal the opportunity to provide input on potential reuses of the properties early in the disposition process, before any smart growth study is undertaken.
  • Requires a smart growth study be prepared by the regional planning agency for any property more than 2 acres in size.
  • Allocates 15% of the net cash proceeds from the disposition of surplus property to the municipality where the property is located, or 25% if the municipality has adopted for the property either an approved smart growth zoning district under chapter 40R or an approved priority development site under chapter 43D (unless the municipality acquired the property).
  • Allocates 50% of the remaining net cash proceeds to the Smart Growth Fund.
  • Allocates the balance to a new fund – the Capital Projects Fund, and provides that the Fund shall be expended, subject to appropriation, to meet the capital improvement needs of the Commonwealth.

This picture depicts the number of housing starts made possible through the sale of surplus state-owned assets.  The picture also notes that housing was built in 18 diverse communities and almost 4,000 units built or projected to be built, including affordable housing and low-income units.

Source: The Division of Capital Asset Management

For more on the Commonwealth smart growth initiatives please visit: MA Smart Growth or for a list of the communities with current or planned redevelopment projects, please visit: Office of Real Estate Management (OREM).

[1] Sustainable Communities Network, Smart Growth On-line,1996-2009, Smart Growth

Prepared by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance · Rooms 373 & 272 · State House
For more information contact:
David Sullivan and Chantal Mont-Louis ( and

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