Housing Choice Legislation

Overview of Section 3A of the Zoning Act

Section 18 of chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 added a new section 3A to chapter 40A of the General Laws applicable to MBTA communities and provides:

An MBTA community shall have a zoning ordinance or by-law that provides for at least 1 district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right; provided, however, that such multi-family housing shall be without age restrictions and shall be suitable for families with children.  For purposes of this section, a district of reasonable size shall:  (i) have a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre, subject to any further limitations imposed by section 40 of chapter 131 and title 5 of the state environmental code established pursuant to section 13 of chapter 21A; and (ii) be located not more than 0.5 miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable.

The Department of Housing and Community Development, in consultation with the MBTA, is required to promulgate guidelines to determine if an MBTA community is in compliance with Section 3A.  DHCD promulgated preliminary guidance on January 29, 2021 and updated the guidance on December 15, 2021.  

DHCD Preliminary Guidance on MBTA Communities.  Click here.  For the updated Guidance click here.

On January 31, 2022, at a joint Select Board/Planning Board/SLPAC meeting, there was a briefing of the Housing Choice Legislation applicable to MBTA communities and the DHCD updated Guidelines.  For the power point deck used at the meeting, please click here.