The Baker administration has pared back the multifamily zoning required of many communities along and around the MBTA system after smaller towns complained of a one-size-fits-all approach to interpreting a new housing law.
Earlier this year, officials in dozens of communities criticized the proposed “MBTA Communities” rules, which mandate new multifamily zoning in some 175 cities and towns across eastern Massachusetts, issued by the state Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development. They expressed fears of being overwhelmed by development that could cripple their waste water systems, roads, schools, or other critical municipal services.
In the final rules issued Thursday, the agency takes a more nuanced approach, particularly trimming requirements for smaller towns with no train stations. Those towns would be exempt from a rule mandating at least 50 acres zoned for multifamily units and as a result could get by with as few as 53 such units, in the case of tiny Plympton. The 50-acre minimum would remain for about two-thirds of cities and towns. Overall, the changes would reduce the number of multifamily units allowed as of right in the new zones across the MBTA catchment area by about 18 percent, to 283,500, from 344,100 in the initial version.