July 6, 2013
Smarter growth, healthier towns
WE IN the public health and pediatric communities read with great interest the Globe’s editorial regarding proposed zoning reform legislation (“Mass. needs new zoning law to help ease housing woes,” June 25), which would update the Commonwealth’s dysfunctional zoning codes, thereby promoting smart growth and “unclogging the construction pipeline.”
We would like to highlight significant additional benefits of comprehensive zoning reform, namely those that improve the health of Massachusetts citizens. Blueprints for our communities should reflect public-health goals to increase opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy foods. To that end, the revision of our zoning laws provides a valuable opportunity to reduce sprawl, pollution, and social isolation and to increase safe streets, open spaces, and healthy food access.
Proposals currently under consideration at the State House would update the master planning process, would encourage dialogue between local planning and health officials, would eliminate outdated laws that promote sprawl, and would encourage the construction of transit-friendly, walkable, bikeable communities.
These reforms will make it easier for Massachusetts citizens to stay healthy, and will ensure that its children grow up in an environment that promotes healthy living. We urge the Legislature to move forward on this bill.
Executive Director, Massachusetts Public Health Association
Dr. Anna Rosenquist
Massachusetts Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics