2024 is a busy year for the MBTA Communities Zoning Law in Massachusetts

Of the 177 Massachusetts communities required by law (“3A”, or “MBTA Communities”) to adopt a by-right multifamily zoning district, 130 must do so by the end of this year. Twelve communities had a deadline in 2023, and the remaining 35 have a deadline in 2025.

CommunityScale has worked with or will work with a number of communities to achieve compliance with MBTA Communities. Each community has had a slightly different approach to how they want to meet the requirement, and we have been helping to give shape to multifamily districts that fit within the context of the existing community and their plans. Some lessons learned are below, in roughly the order in which we started our collaboration:

  1. Lowell: Initial scoping of MBTA Communities around the station. In this case, the client was already thinking about a district rezoning coinciding with roadway improvements, and could incorporate by-right multifamily housing capacity in excess of the requirement.
  2. Dedham: In Dedham we started with a very open approach that included looking at potential parcels across the town, and finally settled into a tight district with two character areas immediately adjacent to their station.
  3. Malden: Malden is one of the twelve Rapid Transit Communities, which meant that they had to be compliant by the end of 2023. After looking at several scenarios, surveying the public, and closely collaborating with the City Council, Mayor, and staff, we finally settled on a diverse approach with several character districts centered on their downtown and with sub districts at Oak Grove and along bus transit corridors.
  4. North Attleboro: We were already under contract with North Attleboro to write a large-scale mixed use overlay when the MBTA Communities guidelines were released, so we folded the requirements into a compliant sub district along their Route 1 corridor.
  5. Duxbury: We are just getting started in Duxbury, where we expect the new zoning to focus on specific development sites.

Looking forward, we will also be publishing our work with Wakefield and Sherborn, and hopefully other communities, too.


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