WHAT IS IT?
Legislation enacted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Legislature in January 2021 requires 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 additional criteria that includes:
• Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
• Land located not more than 0.5 miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable
• No age restrictions and suitable for families with children
Each MBTA community has a different requirement that is based on a calculation provided by the state that considers the type of MBTA service, the amount of year-round housing units in the community as of the 2020 census and available land area (excluding restricted land such as wetlands).
Randolph is required to create as-of-right zoning district with:
Minimum Land Area = 48 acres
% to be Located in Station Area (1/2 mile of commuter rail station) = 20% (9.6 acres)
Minimum Contiguous District Size = 24 acres
Minimum Unit Capacity = 1,935 units
% to be Located in Station Area = 20% (387 units)
Minimum Density Requirement = 15 DU/AC
The zoning must be approved by the Town Council no later than December 31, 2024
WHO IS AN MBTA COMMUNITY?
An “MBTA community” is defined by reference to Section 1 of MGL c. 161A:
- one of the “14 cities and towns” that initially hosted MBTA service;
- one of the “51 cities and towns” that also host MBTA service but joined later;
- other “served communities” that abut a city or town that hosts MBTA service; or
- a municipality that has been added to the MBTA under G.L. c. 161A, sec. 6 or in accordance with any special law relative to the area constituting the authority.
Randolph is designated as a "commuter rail" community due to the Randolph/Holbrook Commuter Rail Station.
WHY IS THIS NECESSARY?
Watch the brief video from Mass Housing Partnership to have a better idea of how the law will improve access to housing for residents in MBTA communities while permitting the Town to maintain control over where the housing can be located.
DOES THE LAW FORCE PRODUCTION OF HOUSING?
WHAT IS RANDOLPH DOING?
The Town's Planning Department has been actively engaged since the regulations were enacted. Through the department, the Town received a grant to hire a consulting firm to provide guidance to understand the entirety of the law and requirements, to review the town and town maps and identify potential districts, determine if the proposed districts comply with the law and write draft zoning to meet all aspects of the statute. The team of RKG Associates and Innes Associates is currently guiding the Town through the process.
On October 28, 2023, the Town hosted a community workshop around the MBTA zoning requirements. The consulting firms of RKG Associates and Innes Associates along with the Director of Planning provided an overview of the state law and the timeline for compliance. Following presentation, participants were provided with a map of Randolph and Lego blocks. Small groups spent an hour discussing locations for multifamily housing, the number of units they recommend for each district and the rationale around their decision.
The slide presentation provided at the meeting can be found HERE.
The team from Randolph Community Television recorded one of the three sessions of the day and made it available for viewing.
- Why was the section 3A law enacted?
To combat the increasingly high costs of housing. According to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (HLC):
- 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. High housing costs are a primary driver of homelessness.
- These high costs are a disadvantage as we compete economically against peer states.
- The risk of future job growth moving outside Massachusetts is rising due to the high costs of living.
- What does "as of right" or "by right" mean?
It means that means development is allowed by zoning without the need for a special permit or other discretionary zoning approval.
- What does "multi-family housing" mean?
For the purposes of this legislation, “multi-family housing” means a building with 3 or more residential dwelling units.