MBTA Zoning Technical Assistance
This program will support MBTA communities seeking to comply with the new provision in the $262 million Economic Development Bond Bill of 2021. The bill included modifications to the state's zoning act (Chapter 40A, Section 18), adding a new section (3A) which directs 175 MBTA communities to adopt zoning where multi-family housing is permitted by right.
Since then, the state has developed draft compliance guidelines. Released on Dec. 15, 2021, the guidelines are based on the principle that communities that benefit from having access or proximity to public transit should “provide the opportunity for multi-family housing around these assets at a scale, density and character consistent with the community’s planning goals.” The draft guidelines will be open for public comment through March 31, 2022. Public comment can be made through this online form.
To support community understanding and compliance, MHP's will provide technical assistance for MBTA Communities, in collaboration with Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
The 3A-TA program components will include:
- Training: MHP will develop a series of instructional webinars for MBTA communities. 3A-TA webinars will feature experts and case studies that will complement DHCD outreach on Section 3A goals and technical compliance requirements by providing “how-to” instruction on attaining compliance, including mapping district boundaries build-out analysis, crafting by-laws and building community support.
- Community specific 3A-TA Technical Assistance Awards: Starting in the spring of 2022, MHP will provide direct compliance technical assistance to a limited number of communities. Assistance will be provided by MHP staff or by third-party consultants. Eligible activities could include drafting or amending bylaw/ordinance, drawing district boundaries and mapping, build-out analysis, community outreach and preliminary compliance review assistance in collaboration with DHCD.
- 3A-TA Information Clearinghouse: MHP is building a 3A-TA Clearinghouse with information to help communities comply with the new requirements. This will include Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), Best Practices, compliance deadlines, a model by-law or ordinance, sample talking points and action plans. Training resources will be developed in collaboration with DHCD’s Community Services Division, and will complement support and guidance available from DHCD, Citizens Planning Training Collaborative (CPTC), the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) and other partners. Scroll down for links to resources we have posted so far.
MBTA zoning requirement resources from Mass.gov
- Draft guidelines
- Letter from Baker Administration to MBTA communities
- How MBTA communities can comply in 2022
- MBTA Communities Frequently Asked Questions
- Video: Rewatch the MBTA communities zoning webinar (1/12/22)
- Webinar presentation: Slide deck from MBTA communities webinar (1/12/22)
Tools for planners
- Transit-Oriented Developer Explorer (TODEX): User-friendly tool with density maps for 261 Greater Boston transit stops.
- DataTown: Housing & demographic info, graphics and charts for all 351 Massachusetts communities.
- MassMapper: Interactive map with measuring tool that allows users to draw shapes & calculate acreages.
- How to adopt or amend zoning?: This template has information about procedural requirement's of the state's zoning act.
- Compliance deadlines for MBTA communities: Timeline on how to comply with new law.
- Density visualizations: Examples of multifamily housing compiled by MAPC.
Zoning & Transportation
- Density analysis of 261 Gr. Boston transit stations: 2019 report by MHP's Center for Housing Data.
- Why MA Needs to Legalize Apartments Near Transit: 2020 report by Boston Indicators.
- 15-Minute Neighborhoods: 2021 report on walkable neighborhoods with case studies of Boston, Reading, Somerville & Worcester.
- Snapshot look at MBTA Communities Draft Guidelines: Presentation by the Citizens' Housing & Planning Association, Jan. 2022.
- MBTA Communities Zoning Explained: Not a planner? Boston Indicators explains draft guidelines thoroughly in simple terms.
- Examples of municipal briefings on MBTA zoning: Arlington, Brookline, Easton, Hanson, Harvard, Littleton, Milton, Norton.
- 8 steps MBTA communities can take while guidelines are being finalized
- Addressing misconceptions about MBTA zoning law NEW!
- How to apply to become a Complete Neighborhoods Partnership community or region
Discussion & commentary
- Draft guideline questions: Boston Indicators discusses 14 issues raised through its examination of MBTA guidelines.
- MBTA zoning requirement long overdue: Lawrence Eagle Tribune editorial says new law will help many.
- Communities urged to seize moment: Citizens' Housing & Planning Association says law can boost housing & opportunity.
- Huge upside to MBTA Zoning: Boston Foundation's Pelton says housing near transit will help many, especially in urban core.
- Build or pay up: Slate says MBTA zoning is East Coast's latest bid to match West Coast in mandating apartments.
- MetroWest reaction: Local leaders from Framingham, Wellesley, Franklin, Natick react to new zoning requirement
- South Shore reaction: Towns on way to meeting requirement or planning to rezone
- CHAPA comments on guidelines: State's top housing advocacy urges amendment prioritizing affordability
- MAPC comments on guidelines: Also urge final guidelines provide ways to zone for affordability
- Mass Municipal Association comments on guidelines: Concerns over requirements, time frame, support
- MHP's Clark Ziegler on new law after 20 public meetings: Work to do, but law is major step forward