Frequently Asked Questions
The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments (NMCOG) works with the communities of the Greater Lowell region to support and enhance a wide range of land use planning objectives. These include environmental protection, economic development, housing and residential development, transportation and transit planning, and the building and maintenance of community character. NMCOG provides technical assistance to member communities in designing, facilitating, and implementing community development programs and planning projects which further the interests of the region as a whole.
NMCOG is one of the thirteen regional planning agencies within Massachusetts formed by the enabling legislation of Chapter 40 B of the Massachusetts General Laws. This allows the council to act as a public agency governed by a policy board of local elected officials rather than the federal and state government. The member municipalities of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Lowell, Pepperell, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough and Westford are each represented on the Council by two councilors and one alternate.
By statute, the council is required to study the Northern Middlesex region’s resources, problems, needs and possibilities. The council makes plans and recommendations for the physical, social, governmental and economic improvement of the district. Major ongoing projects are concerned with transportation and transit planning, water supply and quality issues, land use planning, economic development, housing, historic preservation, solid waste and recycling, and providing technical assistance to member communities.
NMCOG maintains a staff of professional planners to assist member communities in developing and implementing its policies. Assessments upon the member communities are made on an equal per capita basis and are used to provide the "local share" of various projects undertaken by the Council with Federal funds and local assistance.
The Council, through special legislation, requires representation by member communities’ chief elected officials. This characteristic dramatically improves the level of communication and coordination at the local level. Secondly, special legislation (Chapter 420 of the Acts of 1989) now allows the council to perform a wide variety of non-planning functions on behalf of its members. The district now stands unique in the Commonwealth.