Thursday, October 17, 2013
Last night the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) celebrated its 50th anniversary at the Westford Regency Hotel. Consisting of the city of Lowell and the towns of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Pepperell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, and Westford, NMCOG is one of thirteen regional planning agencies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These agencies were an outgrowth of the move towards centralized government planning in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In many parts of the country where county government was (and is) more far-reaching in its bureaucratic responsibilities, regional planning was a more natural fit. In Massachusetts, however, almost all bureaucratic authority resides with the individual communities so making regional operations a success required more innovation and negotiation. Through the years, NMCOG has been successful in doing that, especially since adding local elected officials such as city councilors and town selectmen to the council along with local planners. One added benefit of this evolution was that it provided a forum for town-to-town communications at the elected official level that would not otherwise exist. Since the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds nearly overlaps the NMCOG region (they have Pepperell; we have Carlisle and Wilmington), the registry has worked very closely with NMCOG on a number of projects particularly in the GIS area. So congratulations to NMCOG for 50 years of outstanding service.