MBTA Communities Multifamily Guidelines

Page updated as of April 14, 2022.

This page is dedicated to providing the public with information related to the recently released draft guidelines from the state related to multifamily housing zoning in MBTA Communities. These guidelines were the necessary follow up to one specific element included within legislation passed by the state in December 2020 and signed into law by Governor Baker in January 2021. Harvard is one of 75 Massachusetts towns designated as "MBTA Adjacent" and as such, we are required under the draft guidelines to develop zoning to allow 750 multifamily housing units. More information is below regarding a summary of the guidelines as well as links to pages and documents regarding the program. We will try to update this page regularly as it will be a fast moving and sensitive topic.

Harvard-Related News

  • Draft Response Letter - The Planning Board, in collaboration with the Select Board, developed a detailed letter of comment to the state's Department of Housing and Community Development in regard to the MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning Guidelines. The letter was submitted in advance of the March 31, 2022 deadline and a scanned copy can be viewed HERE.
  • Members of the Planning Board and staff have attended a number of workshops and presentations related to the legislation and draft guidelines. Some of these workshop presentations and handouts have been provided below.

Basic Information

  • The Legislation - The impetus for the draft guidelines was the passage in the State Legislature of Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020, AN ACT ENABLING PARTNERSHIPS FOR GROWTH. In short, while there were a wide range of important Zoning Act (Ch. 40A) amendments, one key provision was the requirement that all MBTA Communities had to establish a multifamily residential zoning district that was by-right or as-of-right, which means that it can be approved through site plan review but cannot impose a special permit. The law lacked specifics and assigned The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to develop guidelines to implement the law. This is the stage we are in right now, evaluating the draft and providing comments before the guidelines are finalized.
  • The Draft Guidelines - These draft guidelines were released by DHCD on December 15, 2021 and are currently under review by Massachusetts communities and other stakeholders. A .pdf version can be downloaded HERE.
  • MBTA Community Compliance Deadlines - Mass Housing Partnership Table

Resources and Technical Assistance

Harvard-Related Documents and Sites