January 18, 2010
W10-4: In 1955, Daniel Sweeney, the owner of a large farm in the old New England town of Acton, Massachusetts, decided to abandon his unprofitable dairy and market farm business and develop his land for houses. His large single-family subdivision, Colonial Acres, proved to be a sign of the times. Soon afterwards, developers began constructing new homes and shops all over town. Over the next fifty years, the former collection of farms and mill villages evolved into an affluent Boston suburban bedroom community. The dynamics of growth introduced tensions in the public life of the town. Acton residents, including recent arrivals, argued over what (if any) forms of development were best and ultimately just what sort of place Acton should be. Many were shocked by the appearance of new developments—particularly the apartment buildings that sprouted along Great Road (Route 2A) in the 1960s—and worried that if left unchecked, development would destroy the special character of the town. Others realized that the town’s provision of high-quality services—especially its highly regarded education system—depended on revenues derived from new development...
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