Services

Local Technical Assistance Program
The MRPC was created more than 50 years ago by several planning boards that wanted to engage municipal planners for assistance. MRPC has on staff a former town planner who is available to provide over-the-phone technical assistance and questions received from local planning and zoning appeals boards and conservation commissions. She is available to assist with zoning, land permitting, plan writing, natural resources protection and general land use questions. Please note that municipalities seeking answers to legal questions are referred by the MRPC to their respective city solicitors and town counsels; MRPC will not dispense legal opinions.
 
MRPC offers local technical assistance (LTA) to member communities in many planning areas. Typical LTA projects include:
  • Eight hours of free geographic information system (GIS) assistance per calendar year
    • Examples of local GIS service projects include cemetery mapping in Shirley and web mapping under the MRPC’s MRMapper website (https://mrmapper.mrpc.org/)
    • In some cases, near the end of the calendar year, if a community has not received its free eight hours of GIS services, it may combine the unused time with the additional eight hours for the upcoming calendar year
  • Traffic counts on local roads including volume, speed and vehicle classifications; up to five traffic counts may be completed each year in a community (MRPC has historical traffic count data going back more than three decades)
  • Assistance with some grant applications such as the State’s Green Communities program, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Housing Choice Initiative and others
    • MRPC also prepares Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) grants funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); phase one and phase two ESA’s are provided to communities on certain priority “brownfield” sites upon the request of the community
  • Assistance with zoning amendments (bylaws or ordinances) is provided annually through a short application process managed each winter by the MRPC in relation to the District Local Technical Assistance (DLTA) program
  • Reviews of development proposals, environmental impacts reports and environmental notification forms at the request of the community
  • Provision of local and regional planning documents online
MRPC can work with member communities to secure federal and state grant funds in order to make the work possible. Examples of this include accessing the:
  • New Culvert Replacement Grant program, funds of which are provided through the Division of Ecological Restoration of the Department of Fish and Game under the State’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA)
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) offered by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
  • Green Communities Program funds addressing technological upgrades in municipal buildings and fleets reducing carbon emissions; funded and administered by the MA Department of Energy Resources (DOER)
  • Municipal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvement Grant Program as funded and managed by the Massachusetts Office on Disabilities (MOD); funds planning and implementation grants for certain municipal programs and facilities
In addition to the above, MRPC leverages its LTA funds to provide technical support to communities to:
  • Promote economic development and transit planning assistance through Federal grant awards to the MRPC received from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and Federal Transit Administration
  • Support the completion of housing and economic development plans and related zoning bylaws, regionalization of municipal services and the MA Community Compact Services program
Projects such as preparing a master plan, a new zoning bylaw, or a zoning map, are charged individually on a fee-for-service basis. In some instances, the DLTA program may be accessed for a planning service. Local funds can be used to augment DLTA program resources or other MRPC services.