January Newsletter

Pancakes & Planning with the Wenham Affordable Housing Trust

On January 20, the team at JM Goldson traveled to Wenham, MA for a special Saturday morning workshop and pancake breakfast. Residents of Wenham came to have their voice heard as a part of the lively discussions these workshops promote, and the Trust was eager to hear what they had to say.

Jennifer began the workshop with a presentation on what affordable housing means and what the purpose of an Affordable Housing Trust is. The presentation was followed by a discussion exercise, where each table discussed a different topic, facilitated by a Trust member.


About 40 residents were involved in this process, and the diversity of age and background in the attendees contributed to the passion and liveliness of conversation. It was this liveliness that brought about new ideas and allowed participants to both have their thoughts heard and leave with new perspectives. A community meeting that allows and encourages everyone to listen and to be heard will often be both the most useful for planners and Trust members and also the most satisfying for community members who want to be a sincere part of the process.

Much of the success in Wenham can be attributed to a well-organized and passionate town. Volunteers including members of the First Church cooked the breakfast and high school student volunteers offered their Saturday morning to provide babysitting, help in the kitchen, and scribe at each discussion table. The Trust members played a major part in the planning process of the meeting and fostered thoughtful discussions in their groups. Lastly, the residents who attended came with open minds, great questions, and a desire to engage with fellow community members.

Here’s what else JM Goldson has been up to this month:

Bedford: Starting in February, JM Goldson will be assisting the Regional Housing Services Office and the Town of Bedford with preparation of a Strategic Housing Study.

Middleborough: In Middleborough, JM Goldson continues to support the work of the Community Preservation Committee including grant writing for historic preservation and recreation.

Wareham: In the beginning of January, we began survey properties in Wareham Village and Onset Village to enable access to federal Community Development Block Grant funds. Despite a few cold days, JM Goldson's team has been out multiple times to continue surveying properties throughout the month.

Hudson: JM Goldson is beginning work in Hudson, MA to complete a Historic Resource Survey.

Wellesley: We had a kick-off meeting in Wellesley on January 22 with the town's working group, and will be assisting Barrett Planning, LLC. to create a Housing Production Plan over the next few months.

Volunteering: This month, Jennifer began serving on CHAPA’s Chapter 40B Municipal Training Planning Committee. Look out for an announcement of the training date for 2018!

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December Newsletter

We hope everyone has had a joyous holiday season! As the year winds down and we settle into a new office, this month's newsletter focuses on a research brief written by MAPC regarding the relationship between the production of housing and school enrollment.

Debunking the Myth that Housing Production Drives Up School Enrollment

Have you read the recent research brief from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), yet? In our opinion, it is a must read for all public officials involved in municipal land use and development.

We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve heard community members concerned that new housing production will bring too many school children to their community and overburden the public schools. It is the most common objection to housing production that we hear from communities.

MAPC published a research brief in October that analyzes and debunks the conventional wisdom that housing production is linked to school enrollment growth in Massachusetts: “The Waning Influence of Housing Production on Public School Enrollment in Massachusetts.”  

As stated in the Brief:

“These apprehensions are rooted in the demographic and development patterns of the late 20th century, when Baby Boomers were in their prime child-rearing years. Their residential choices caused housing stock, enrollment, and school expenditures to grow quickly in many suburbs . . . We find that the conventional wisdom that links housing production with inevitable enrollment growth no longer holds true.”

If increased school enrollment isn’t due to housing production, then why are some school districts growing while others are not? The brief finds that districts with the most growth are in one of two types of communities: 1) highly desirable, expensive communities with strong school systems (e.g., Arlington, Belmont, Brookline) or 2) racially/ethnically diverse, lower-income communities with more affordably-priced market-rate housing (e.g., Chelsea, Everett, Revere).

We encourage you to read this seven-page brief for yourself and share it widely with your fellow-community members.

Updates from JM Goldson

We're excited to kick off the new year with some great projects, including a property condition survey in Onset Village and Wareham Village in Wareham. This project, ongoing until June, will be assessing the condition of properties and public infrastructure in both villages. To complete the project, we've partnered with Silva Engineering in Bridgewater, MA.

In Westwood, we conducted a community survey to gather input for an update to the Open Space and Recreation Plan, and the many responses gave a great idea of what open space and recreation resources the community wants to see improved or implemented in Westwood. Read about the process here, where Jennifer is quoted about the survey. Lastly, we have also gotten started on the Wellesley Housing Production Plan this month, with Barrett Planning LLC as the lead consultant. 

Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates! Wishing everyone a prosperous new year!

November Newsletter

Welcome to the first monthly newsletter from JM Goldson community preservation + planning! We’ve had a busy month, with new projects just beginning, other projects wrapping up, and a few big changes.

New office space!

Starting soon, JM Goldson will be moving from our current location on Harrison Ave to a new office, located at 236 Huntington Ave, where our team will have more space. We’re so excited to set up the office and move in!

New projects

In the last month, we’ve begun work on a few new projects. In Arlington, Hanson, and North Adams, we’re conducting historic resource surveys. We’re also beginning work in Quincy, on an Open Space Analysis. In Wellesley, we're collaborating with Barrett Planning Group, LLC on a Housing Production Plan. Lastly, we’ve been awarded a Slums and Blight project in Wareham that we’re very excited to dive in on!


Jennifer presented the draft Housing Production Plan to the Weymouth Town Council and Planning Board last week. Read here about it: http://959watd.com/blog/2017/11/weymouth-commitees-to-consider-affordable-housing-production-plan/ 

Staff Announcements

Our part-time community planning assistant, Jamie Shalvey, will be coming on as full-time starting December 4! Jamie has been with JM Goldson since January 2017 and is excited to join Jennifer and Lara as a full-time member of the firm.

Want to hear more from JM Goldson?

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North Andover Master Plan Public Forum

JM Goldson partnered with RKG Associates last night for the first public forum regarding the North Andover Master Plan. The turnout was incredible, with over 160 residents of the town coming to participate and give their feedback!


Along with a presentation by Jennifer and Eric Halvorsen from RKG Associates, the forum included several open house activities where participants could talk to consultants and committee members, ask questions, and give their feedback on different aspects of the town that will be addressed in the plan.

Overall, the forum left participants feeling like their voice, and the voice of the town, was heard, and the consultant team more equipped to understand what people love about North Andover, and what needs to be improved in the town.



Kudos to the town of North Andover and the Master Plan Oversight Committee for getting such a great turnout last night! We had a blast, and got a lot of great input.

Fair Housing Trainings: Facilitating dialogue in MA towns

In June, JM Goldson launched a new training for municipal staff, boards, and committees on fair housing as related to land use, zoning, and planning decisions. JM Goldson developed this training on behalf of the WestMetro HOME Consortium and working closely with the Regional Housing Services Office and City of Newton Fair Housing Committee.

In the training, municipal officials will review the background of fair housing and its current relevance; delve into fair housing considerations specific to local land use policies and practices; and examine select case law.

Local land use decisions and policies can have a profound effect on advancing fair housing objectives. To further fair housing goals and avoid liability, it is critical for municipal officials involved with local land use decisions and policies to develop an understanding of fair housing laws and best practices. If you would like more information on how to bring this training to your community, please contact us at jamie@jmgoldson.com.

Welcome to our new web site!

Welcome to the new jmgoldson.com, where we've featured the projects we've been working on, more about our staff, what our clients have to say about us, and more!

Under the Contact page, there's an option to subscribe to our mailing list. So if you want to learn more about what we're working on, share your name and email and we will keep you updated.

We're excited about this brand new interface, and invite you to take a look around!

Community Visioning in Tewksbury

This winter and spring, JM Goldson with sub-consultants from RKG Associates and Favermann Design have been working with the Town of Tewksbury to create a 20-year community vision. The project includes soliciting community input through both face-to-face community engagement and digital engagement through a CoUrbanize site dedicated to the project.

coUrbanize Platform

coUrbanize Platform

What is Community Visioning?

Visioning is the act of imagining the future. Before there can be a meaningful plan, community members must agree on a mental picture of what they want their community to look like, feel like, and be like. What would the community be like at its very best?

In 20 years from now, visioning imagines...

  • Who lives here?
  • What are they doing?
  • What are their homes like?
  • How are they getting around?

Community Engagement in Tewksbury

In Tewksbury in the past few months, the Town held a community open house and a focus group for town officials, both of which provided information about the key findings of the 2016 Master Plan and engaged participants in envisioning the future through multiple techniques. Upcoming on May 18th,  the Town will sponsor a Seniors focus group and another community open house on June 1st where the community will be invited to discuss draft vision statements.

The community member reached in this project is greatly expanded through online engagement. The project has used an online platform called coUrbanize to distribute information to members of the town and to get feedback on what people want to see happing in Tewksbury. CoUrbanize, using a map of the town, offers users to leave comments about parts of the town they love, areas that could be better, and what's missing from the town. It also provides us a means to give updates on the visioning process. This project has close to 400 comments shared through the platform!

Community Branding

A part of community visioning is branding the community – when people think of Tewksbury, what do they think of? Mark Favermann, of Favermann Design, created five designs that were showcased at the first open house with the option for participants to vote on their favorites. These designs would brand Tewksbury, and included images of the town hall and gazebo. Participants voted based on what they felt best represented their town.

Here is an article by Mark Favermann on community branding: Urban Branding - An Expression of Civic Character


The timeline for the project is linked below:

Tewksbury Vision Project Schedule 042417

Fair Housing Conference 2017 - Building Local Capacity

Last week, Jennifer spoke at the 11th Annual Fair Housing & Civil Rights Conference in Springfield, MA. She spoke as part of a panel on Affordable Housing, Disparate Impact, and Building Local Capacity with Shelly Goehring (Massachusetts Housing Partnership), Rita Farrell (Massachusetts Housing Partnership), and attorney Felicity Hardee. Read Felicity Hardee’s post about the workshop here.

The Fair Housing & Civil Rights conference was a multi-day event featuring workshops and panel discussions from civil rights leaders, nonprofit organizations, and government officials, all working to promote nationwide equality.

Jennifer’s presentation slides are attached below. In the presentation, she focused on building capacity in three categories: political, human, and financial. Check it out!


We are thrilled to announce the newest member of JM Goldson’s team – Lara Kritzer joins us as Principal Planner!

Lara has close to two decades of experience in municipal government in Massachusetts that has focused primarily on historic preservation, affordable housing, and the administration of the Massachusetts Community Preservation Act. She also has extensive experience in grant writing and administration, comprehensive and community planning, open space conservation, neighborhood design reviews and surveys, as well as community engagement.

Lara joins JM Goldson after nearly a decade as the Senior Planner for the Town of Concord. There, Lara’s work focused on the oversight and development of the Town’s Community Preservation Act, Local Historic Districts, and Historical Commission activities and programs.  As staff to the Community Preservation Committee, Lara was responsible for administering an application and project oversight program with an average of $1.4 million in annual allocations to projects in community housing, open space, recreation, and historic preservation.  The wide range of her work in this area includes experience with the purchase of open space and agricultural lands; the restoration of both locally and nationally significant historic sites; the development of new playing fields and park spaces; and the construction of new affordable housing units both in existing and new developments.

Williamstown Future Neighborhoods Housing Vision

The team at JM Goldson is excited to assist the Town of Williamstown, MA, Planning Board, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Housing Partnership and coUrbanize, in an effort to actively engage the public in conversations about housing in the community’s vibrant and most walkable neighborhoods.

Check out the interactive mapping platform on the project’s coUrbanize site!

What is coUrbanize? It’s an online platform for urban planning projects to post information and host online conversations with community members.