Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 40A, Section 3A & What does this mean for Burlington?
177 Massachusetts communities are subject to this new law as they are serviced by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).
From a March 15, 2023 Press Release by the Attorney General;
"Compliance with the MBTA Communities Zoning Law is not only mandatory, it is an essential tool for the Commonwealth to address its housing crisis along with our climate and transportation goals,”
"Communities cannot opt out of or avoid their obligations by choosing to forego state funding. Failure to comply may result in civil enforcement action or liability under federal and state fair housing laws."
Per the law, each community MUST provide a zoning district which allows multi-family housing by-right.
By-right means that proposed multi-family housing developments in that district do not require Town Meeting or Special Permit approval.
This law does not require housing numbers to reach a certain amount for compliance.
However, the zoning must be put in place to allow for multi-family housing to be allowed should the property owner wish to develop on it.
Burlington is classified as an "Adjacent Community" and there are no requirements that the new zoning district be within a certain proximity to an MBTA Bus station.
The Zoning District must be (1) at least 50 acres, 25 of which must be contiguous, (2) Non-age restricted, (3) 15 units per acre (for reference, Beacon Village is 18 units per acre).
Burlington currently has a Subsidized Housing Inventory of 13.52% of total housing, which exceeds the 10% state mandated minimum. As a result, new proposed multi-family housing developments do not need to be made affordable.
As with all Zoning Changes, this will require a vote at Town Meeting and need a simple (1/2) majority to pass.
"Adjacent Communities" are required to be in compliance by 12/31/2024.