Release: Immediate
Contact: Barbara Campanella

December 1, 1999

Western New England College School of Law to Host Conference on Increasing Affordable Housing and Regional Housing Opportunity

SPRINGFIELD, MA...Western New England College School of Law will host a conference on "Increasing Affordable Housing and Regional Housing Opportunity in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey." The Conference marks the thirtieth anniversary of the passing of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Permit Statute, or so-called "Anti-Snob Zoning" laws.

The Conference will be held: Friday, December 10, 1999
9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the
S. Prestley Blake Law Center
Western New England College School of Law
1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119-2684

The Conference is expected to draw state and local officials from the three New England states, housing developers, homebuilders, realtors, attorneys, and academics.

The Conference provides a first-ever comparative assessment of the statutes and their enforcement. In 1969, Massachusetts enacted the nation’s first comprehensive permit statute authorizing a state administrative agency to override a local zoning decision and to issue a comprehensive permit for affordable housing construction. Thirty years later, only four other states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, have enacted similar statutes.

The Conference will examine:

  • What has been built, where, and by whom
  • Administrative versus judicial enforcement
  • Definitions of regional housing needs, local needs, and interests
  • Time frames for decision-making
  • What factors contribute to success/failure

Following an introduction by Donald Dunn, Dean of Western New England College School of Law, the morning will include a presentation by the event’s coordinator, Western New England College School of Law Professor Sam Stonefield, who will provide an historical overview of the origins, goals, accomplishments, and areas of improvements of the statutes.

Reporting on the New England statutes will be Dean Sharon P. Kreftz, assistant provost and dean of Clark University (MA); Hon. Stephen P. Erickson, Associate Justice of the District Court and Chair of the Rhode Island Housing Appeals Committee (RI); and Professor Terry Tondro, Thomas Gallivan Professor of Real Estate Law, University of Connecticut Law School (CT).

A midday luncheon will include a recognition ceremony honoring legislative leaders, original drafters and the leading lender. Honorees include:

David Bartley – President, Holyoke Community College; formerly Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives

Congressman Joe Moakely –
Congressperson, Massachusetts 9th Congressional District; formerly Senate Chair of the Urban Affairs Committee

Martin Linsky –
Lecturer, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; consultant; and formerly State Representative from Brookline

Augusto Grace – Attorney, Administrative Office, Massachusetts Trial Court; formerly State Representative

Frederick E. Berry –
State Senator, second Essex District, Massachusetts

Allan Rodgers –
Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Alex Kovel – Attorney, private practice; formerly Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

Leading lender –
Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency

In the afternoon session, regulators, local officials, developers, and planners will offer their perspectives. The session will be facilitated by Clark Ziegler, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and include Western New England College Professor Eric Gouvin, former Chair of Gill ZBZ; Werner Lohe, Chair of the Housing Appeals Committee; and Henry Thomas, President and CEO of Springfield Urban League. The conference will conclude with a reception.

The conference registration fee is $30 per person (includes luncheon, refreshments, materials, and conference proceedings in the Western New England College Law Review). For reservations or more information, contact Prof. Sam Stonefield at 413-782-1441.