Housing

Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities (Section 3A)

Section 3A of M.G.L. c. 40A (the Zoning Act) 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 that meets other criteria set forth in the statute.

On August 10th, 2022, DHCD issued the final guidelines to achieve compliance with Section 3A.

Enacted as part of the economic development bill in January 2021, new Section 3A of M.G.L. c. 40A (the Zoning Act) 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 that meets other criteria set forth in the statute.

SRPEDD is working with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) to provide technical assistance and resources to its member communities affected by Section 3A.

Key Dates and Deadlines

By January 31, 2023, all MBTA Communities must submit a timeline and an Action Plan to DHCD to achieve interim compliance.

By December 31, 2024, all Commuter Rail and Adjacent (non-Small Town) Communities must submit an application for district compliance, "which is achieved when DHCD determines that an MBTA community has a multi-family zoning district that complies with Section 3A."

By December 31, 2025, all Adjacent Small Town Communities must submit an application for district compliance.

Have a question about the new law or technical assistance (TA) to achieve compliance?

Please email one of our staff contacts with your question and we will be in touch. You may also explore "3A-TA" opportunities from DHCD, MHP, and other sources here by clicking here.

SRPEDD Section 3A Resources

Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) Webinar Series

SRPEDD is proud to have presented two webinars in MHP's webinar series "More Than Compliance: Multifamily Districts That Work in Your Community." Our presentations and accompanying StoryMaps for our two webinars, "Exploring Housing at Different Densities" and "Siting Your District for Adjacent Communities," are linked below.

Exploring Housing at Different Densities Presentation (VIDEO)
Exploring Housing at Different Densities StoryMap (SLIDES)

Siting Your District for Adjacent Communities Presentation (VIDEO)
Siting Your District for Adjacent Communities StoryMap (SLIDES)

For more information or to inquire about the webinar series, please contact Grant King or Taylor Perez.

Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Presentation to SRPEDD MBTA Communities

On November 14th, 2022, DHCD's Chris Kluchman and Nathan Carlucci presented and facilitated a Q&A session with SRPEDD MBTA communities on Section 3A. To review the slides, click here.

What communities are affected?

Currently, 15 of SRPEDD's 27 member communities are subject to the requirements set forth in Section 3A. While several communities in the SRPEDD region are affected by the construction of new commuter rail stations under the South Coast Rail project, only communities identified as an “MBTA community” in section 1A of the Zoning Act and section 1 of chapter 161A of the General Laws are subject to the requirements set forth in section 3A. Of those communities, transit categories were assigned to reflect certain MBTA service changes that will result from new infrastructure projects now under construction (i.e. South Coast Rail), as well as the elimination of regular commuter rail service at the existing Lakeville station. These changes are scheduled to take effect in all cases a year or more before any municipal district compliance deadline.

On January 1st, 2023, SRPEDD member communities Fall River and New Bedford will be added to the legislation as MBTA Communities per the results of their local referendums to join the MBTA service district. Their timelines for achieving interim compliance via the submission of an Action Plan have been extended to March 31st, 2023.

SRPEDD MBTA Communities

What Changed Since the Draft Guidelines?

While there were a number of changes, additional definitions, and clarifications added to the final Compliance Guidelines, the following are the most notable within SRPEDD’s region: 

  • Addition of “Adjacent Small Town” Transit Category; 
  • Clarification of the final transit categories for communities affected by South Coast Rail;  
  • Guidance on the inclusion of affordability requirements within a multi-family zoning district; 
  • Guidance on water and wastewater infrastructure within a multi-family zoning district;
  • Updates to deadlines for interim and district compliance; and
  • (Updated October 2022) Updates to how existing and new 40R districts can comply with Section 3A.

To learn more about these changes, please see SRPEDD's Summary of Section 3A.