MBTA Communities Multi-Family Zoning
In January 2021, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Legislature passed economic development legislation requiring all "MBTA Communities" to develop at least one zoning district within .5 miles of transit that legalizes multi-family housing permitted by right. This housing must be:
- Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
- Located not more than .5 miles from a transit station
- No age restriction and suitable for families with children
The Town of Andover is classified as an MBTA Commuter Rail Community due to the MBTA commuter rail stations located along the Haverhill Commuter Rail Line. The final guidelines for Andover require the following:
According to the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), Massachusetts has among the highest, and fastest growing, home prices and rents of any state in the nation. Rising costs have dramatically increased financial pressures on low- and middle-income families, forcing them to sacrifice other priorities in order to pay housing costs. These high costs are a disadvantage as Massachusetts competes economically against peer states. The risk of future job growth moving outside Massachusetts is rising due to the high costs of living. The lack of zoning for multi-family housing is a barrier for new housing development in Massachusetts. By allowing multifamily housing near transit:
- New housing can be created in walkable neighborhoods closer to transit, which means that more people will be more likely to walk or bike and have easier access to employment and amenities
- Provides an avenue to create additional housing that is priced lower than new single-family dwellings
- Provide more options for people who want to downsize in Andover, or to move to Andover
The Guidelines establish timelines for municipalities to adopt compliant zoning districts. MBTA communities that are noncompliant with Section 3A are ineligible for funding from certain funding sources provided by the Commonwealth. There are two forms of compliance, district (or “full compliance”) and interim compliance. To remain eligible for the calendar year 2023 round of MassWorks and Housing Choice grants, as well as the Local Capital Projects Fund, an MBTA community must submit an Action Plan no later than January 31, 2023.
|Compliance Timeline for MBTA Communities|
|Deadline for Interim Compliance||January 31, 2023|
|Deadline for DHCD Approval of Action Plan||July 1, 2023|
|Deadline for Adopting New Zoning||December 31, 2024|
Andover MBTA Communities Working Group
The Working Group will work the Planning Division Staff to:
- Conduct outreach to the community to determine district location(s) and form
- Analyze feedback from the community and identify ways to achieve compliance with MGL Ch. 40A, Section 3a.
- Suggest ways to incorporate recommendations from existing Plans into MBTA Communities zoning using community feedback
- Assist in identifying ways to develop zoning regulations that will both be appropriate for Andover, and meet the requirements set forth by the State
The Andover MBTA Community meets the second and fourth Thursday of every month. Next meeting date: September 14, 2023 at 6:30 pm.
Working Group Documents
- September 14, 2023, Agenda, MBTA Community Working Group Slides
- August 10, 2023, MBTA Community Working Group Slides, Guess the Density Exercise
- Recording of August 1, 2023, MBTA Community Working Group Meeting
- August 1, 2023, MBTA Community Working Group Meeting Slides
- Recording of July 18, 2023, MBTA Community Working Group Meeting
- July 18, 2023, MBTA Community Working Group Meeting Slides
Opportunities for Further Engagement
Members of the Working Group will be attending a variety of events in Andover at which they hope to meet and speak with as many community members as they can.
Below is more information on the MBTA Communities Zoning law, the current requirements, and the actions that The Town will take over the coming years to comply with the new law:
- Recording of June 7, 2023, MBTA Community Conversation: Visioning Session
- June 7, 2023, MBTA Community Conversation: Visioning Session Presentation
- March 24, 2023, Determination of Interim Compliance under MGL c. 40A, Section 3A.
- Addressing misconceptions about new MBTA communities zoning law.
- March 15, 2023, Office of the Attorney General Advisory Concerning Enforcement of the MBTA Communities Zoning Law.
- March 1, 2023, MBTA Community Conversation: What is the MBTA Communities Zoning Law?
- February 13, 2023, MBTA Communities Zoning Presentation to the Select Board (time stamp 1:34:24)
- November 29, 2022, "There is Something About Andover." AndoverTV (castus.tv) (time stamp 8:41)
- November 15, 2022, MBTA Communities Zoning Presentation to the Planning Board (time stamp 2:05:48)
- Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities | Mass.gov
- Final Guidelines to determine compliance with section 3A of the Zoning Act
- April 25, 2022, MBTA Communities Zoning Presentation to the Select Board (time stamp 1:03:27)
- April 26, 2023, MBTA Communities Presentation at Coffee with a Planner
- April 19, 2023, MBTA Communities Presentation to the Andover & Ballardvale Historic Commissions
- March 1, 2023, MBTA Communities Presentation on the MBTA Communities Law
- January 31, 2023, MBTA Communities Action Plan
- January 31, 2023, Proposed Andover Station MBTA Communities District
- November 15, 2022, MBTA Communities Zoning Presentation to the Planning Board
- May 14, 2015, Historic Mill District Zoning
- July 2019, Strategic Placemaking Plan
- April 2019, Historic Mill District Circulation & Street Design Study
- February 6, 2018, Historic Mill District Design Guidelines
- April, 2015, Assessing Current and Future Needs of Residents Aging in the Town of Andover