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BOSTON-A new initiative designed to slow development in towns across the state has become effective. The Community Preservation Act was passed by the legislature last summer.

The state law provides dedicated property tax revenues for open space acquisition, historic preservation and affordable housing. Communities have the option of collecting up to a three percent surcharge on property tax bills to fund these three preservation initiatives. The law has to be adopted locally, but once it is, the community can decide how to distribute the money it collects.

The initiative comes with a $26 million incentive fund, which was created by increasing some transaction fees at the Registry of Deeds by $20. The state is encouraging towns to adopt the act by dividing its matching funds among participating communities. State officials anticipate that the first year grant could be 100% of the total a participating community raises.

Since the law stipulates that communities must adopt the tax surcharge only at the time of a regular state or local election, those communities governed by a town meeting must make their decisions this spring during regular local elections.

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