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BOSTON-A bill to protect open spaces in this state is being promoted by Representative Paul J.P. Loscocco, who authored the bill. Under the bill’s provisions, states can purchase the development rights to open space sites by giving the owner a transferable multi-year income tax credit.

The bill comes on the heels of the Community Preservation Act, under which towns and cities can create a fund, financed through a property-tax surcharge, to protect open space and historical structures, and increase affordable housing. Municipalities have the option to adopt the Act and so far one has voted the Act down while two others have voted to adopt the Act.

According to Barry Flynn, an aide to Loscocco, the open space bill would serve as a supplement to the Community Preservation Act. “It is another option for people who are faced with the prospect of selling their land for development,” Flynn tells Essentially, under the open space bill, an owner is guaranteeing the Commonwealth that it will keep its land undeveloped in exchange for a tax break that can last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

Towns will be able to use money from their Community Preservation Funds to pay the state to purchase the development rights of a particular open-space parcel. The tax credit could also be sold by the landowner. Reportedly, Loscocco, who recently gained a seat on the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, has been quoted as saying that there is a lot of interest in his bill.

The recent economic uncertainty renders any plan that involves tax cuts potentially difficult for the state to swallow. The bill does not specify though exactly how much the state has to spend on the program, leaving it up to the state to decide how much it wants to invest in this program.

The state’s fiscal uncertainty makes any tax-cut plan a potentially tough sell this year. Loscocco notes that his proposal allows the state to decide how much it wants to spend on the program.

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