MBTA Communities 

picture of MBTA commuter rail train and commuter rail station

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 Size24 acres 
Minimum Unit Capacity1,935 units
% to be Located in Station Area 20% (387 units)
Minimum Density Requirement15 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?

The law specifically DOES NOT REQUIRE a community to produce housing.  Instead, it requires that the Town create reasonable zoning districts and review processes that would allow such housing to be constructed if a property owner or developer so desires.
MBTA zoning summary

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.  

timeline

COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION

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.

 community meeting october 2023


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.

View All

MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT HIGH DENSITY HOUSING


myths and facts

Reference:  White Paper