*NEW* Guidance on By-Right Multifamily Zoning in MBTA Communities

Guidance for MBTA Communities on By-Right Multifamily Zoning

The recently-passed Economic Development Bond Bill included a number of provisions relating to Housing Choices. One topic that has been the subject of a number of questions relates to a change to Chapter 40A, which requires that all "MBTA communities" have a zoning district that allows by-right multifamily housing.

On January 29, 2021 the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) issued Preliminary Guidance for MBTA Communities Regarding Compliance with Section 3A of Chapter 40A (By Right Multifamily Zoning).

This guidance is also briefly summarized below:

The new section 3A of the Zoning Act states that an MBTA community shall have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right and meets other criteria set forth in the statute:

  • Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
  • Not more than ½ mile from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable.
  • No age restrictions
  • Suitable for families with children.

The statute requires DHCD to issue guidelines that define compliance with this new section of the Zoning Act. Compliance criteria will be developed in consultation with affected MBTA communities and other stakeholders.

For purposes of EOHED and DHCD grant programs, MBTA communities will be deemed to be in compliance with this new section until more detailed compliance criteria have been established.

DHCD has specifically stated that all communities are eligible to apply for MassWorks or the Housing Choice Capital Grants Program in the upcoming 2021 grant cycle.

MAPC will continue to communicate new DHCD guidelines to our member municipalities. If you have any questions, please contact Eric Hove at