Karen Faulkner, a retired lawyer seeking election to the Mashpee Planning Board, said her campaign focuses on protecting open space and natural resources, expanding affordable housing and finding traffic solutions while allowing responsible growth in town.
Ms. Faulkner said she hopes to preserve the “charming small-town feel” that attracted her and her husband to retire to Mashpee in 2013. She highlighted her 30 years in law and as a mediator for Florida’s Supreme Court as indicative of her critical thinking and negotiating skills.
“We need to balance the need for growth and tax generation with our established priorities of clean water, protected open space, housing affordability and smart traffic solutions,” Ms. Faulkner said.
She noted that Mashpee’s open space and natural resources are a “big factor for why people live here” and said, “I promise to do what I can to protect open space.”
Ms. Faulkner pointed to the importance of Mashpee’s open space incentive development bylaw and said she would like to see an increase in three-story, mixed-use development that would require less land and minimize impacts on open space.
As the planning board is poised to enter negotiations with Mashpee Commons over the commercial center of town’s proposed expansion, Ms. Faulkner said, “I want a fiscal analysis from Mashpee Commons, whatever part they are going to build, what the tax revenue for the town is going to be and also what the tax burdens are.”
“I know we’re looking at a long-term development project here; I’m a good negotiator,” Ms. Faulkner said of the Commons’s proposed expansion.
She said she is okay with the form-based code proposed as part of the project “as long as we take care of our traffic congestion and we protect our open space and environment.”
In the past development has outpaced infrastructure considerations in Mashpee and a careful balance is required moving forward, Ms. Faulkner said.
“This is 30 years that we’ve had rampant development without taking care of the infrastructure, so now we’ve got to pay the piper,” she said. “I need to protect the taxpayers with growth that benefits the town.”
Ms. Faulkner noted the need for affordable housing in Mashpee and across Cape Cod.
“Affordable housing is absolutely key to keeping our families here on the Cape and maintaining a workforce,” she said.
She noted that fewer than 10 percent of Mashpee’s housing is designated as affordable.
“What do we do about this?” Ms. Faulkner asked. “I think we have to get people together, developers, to get this 10 percent [affordable] housing.”
She suggested providing perks for developing affordable housing and stressed the importance of maintaining strong relationships between the planning board, the affordable housing committee, housing authority, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe housing department and various other affordable housing groups.
Ms. Faulkner said she is concerned that the tribe’s affordable housing project on Meetinghouse Road may be impacted by a decision by the Department of the Interior to disestablish the tribe’s reservation land.
Ms. Faulkner has earned a number of endorsements early in the campaign, including those from outgoing planning board member Joseph Cummings; the current chairwoman of the planning board, Mary Waygan; planning board member Dennis Balzarini; and Selectman David W. Weeden.