Massachusetts Releases Transit-Oriented Multifamily Housing Rules

Communities near transit stations will have to comply with a new set of regulations that support multifamily development and increased housing density.

2 minute read

August 24, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

MBTA Green Line

Lewis Liu / Shutterstock

Half of all Massachusetts towns will have to comply with a newly released set of rules governing multifamily zoning in areas near transit stations, reports Colin A. Young for the Lowell Sun.

Known as ‘MBTA communities,’ after the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, 175 cities and towns are now required to meet certain conditions to continue receiving state funding from several major sources. “The multifamily housing districts must have a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre; be no more than half a mile from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station; have no age restrictions; and be suitable for families with children.”

In a letter, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) Mike Kennealy and Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox wrote, “This law is not a housing production mandate. It is all about setting the table for more transit-oriented housing in the years and decades ahead — which is not just good housing policy, but good climate and transportation policy, too.” 

The letter also detailed changes made to the law since the first draft. According to Young, “A minimum land area requirement was dropped, the unit capacity requirement was reduced for communities with a population less than 7,000 or fewer than 500 residents per square mile, ‘circuit breakers’ were installed to keep multifamily unit capacity from surpassing 25% of a community’s existing housing stock, and the rule about what portion of a multifamily zoning district must be within a half mile of a transit station was tailored to be more specific to each community.”

Friday, August 12, 2022 in The Lowell Sun

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