December 16th Information &
Resource Update
DHCD Releases Guidance for Multi-family Zoning Requirements
for MBTA Communities

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) yesterday released draft guidelines for MBTA Communities regarding new multi-family zoning requirements signed into law earlier this year. 

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 meets other criteria set forth in the statute:
  • Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
  • Not more than ½ miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable
  • No age restrictions
  • Suitable for families with children

Which Communities Are Impacted: “MBTA community” is defined by reference to M.G.L. c. 161A, sec. 1:
  • 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
In total, 175 MBTA communities are subject to the new requirements of Section 3A of the Zoning Act. This includes 30 of 36 495/MetroWest Partnership communities.
495/MetroWest municipalities that are MBTA Communities are Acton, Ashland, Bellingham, Boxborough, Foxborough, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Harvard, Holliston, Hopkinton, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Natick, Norfolk, Northborough, Sherborn, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Stow, Sudbury, Upton, Wayland, Westborough, Westford, and Wrentham.

Allowing Multi-Family Housing “As of Right”: To comply with Section 3A, a multi-family district must allow multi-family housing “as of right,” meaning that the construction and occupancy of multi-family housing is allowed in that district without the need to obtain any discretionary permit or approval. Site plan review and approval may be required for multi-family uses allowed as of right. Site plan review is a process by which a local board reviews a project’s site layout to ensure public safety and convenience. Site plan approval may regulate matters such as vehicular access and circulation on a site, architectural design of a building, and screening of adjacent properties. Site plan review may not be used to deny a project that is allowed as of right, nor may it impose conditions that make it infeasible or impractical to proceed with a multi-family use that is allowed as of right. 

Public Comment: DHCD is accepting public comment on the compliance guidance through March 31st, 2022. DHCD intends to spend the next few months soliciting input and feedback from key stakeholders, particularly towns and cities. Final guidelines will be issued in summer 2022. Click here to submit public comment online

Compliance for 2022: To remain in compliance while DHCD is collecting public comment on the Draft Guidelines, an MBTA community must:
  • Submit the MBTA Community Information Form by 5:00 PM on May 2nd, 2022
  • Hold a briefing of your City Council, Town Council or Select Board on the Draft Compliance Guidance no later than May 2nd, 2022 and attest to that on the MBTA Community Information Form

Penalties for Noncompliance: An MBTA community that does not comply with Section 3A is not eligible for funding from the Housing Choice Initiative, the Local Capital Projects Fund, or the MassWorks Infrastructure Program.

Informational Session: DHCD will host a virtual webinar on Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities on Wednesday, January 12th at 1:00 PM. This session will be hosted via Zoom; access information will be posted at this site when it becomes available
ARPA Spending Bill Signed into Law;
$10.5 Million for 495/MetroWest Projects Included

Earlier this week, Governor Baker signed into law a $4 billion spending plan which utilizes ARPA funding to support continued recovery across key priority areas, making substantial investments in housing and homeownership, healthcare, workforce development, premium pay for essential workers and infrastructure. 

Included within the signed version of the bill are over $10.5 million worth of investments specific to 495/MetroWest communities. These items include:

  • Plainville and Wrentham: $100,000 for the Town of North Attleborough for renovating the Allen Avenue School to serve as a hub for regional food pantries, including food access in neighboring Towns including the Towns of Plainville and Wrentham
  • Maynard, Hudson, Stow: $100,000 for Open Table, Inc. in the Town of Maynard, Hudson Community Food Pantry, Inc. and Stow Food Pantry, Inc.

  • $500,000 for the Town of Ashland for the Riverwalk Trail Enhancement Project

  • $400,000 for the Town of Bolton for the complete replacement of the culvert on Forbush Mill Road

  • $100,000 for signal and sewer infrastructure to support up to 250 affordable housing units through the Foxborough Housing Authority in the Town of Foxborough

  • $250,000 for the construction of a health clinic at the Framingham Public School Welcome Center
  • $250,000 for costs associated with the design of the Chris Walsh Memorial Aqueduct Trail in the Town of Framingham
  • $500,000 to Framingham State University for water and sewer infrastructure improvements at the Warren Conference Center in the Framingham

  • $700,000 for the extension of the Southern New England Trunkline trail into downtown Franklin
  • $20,000 support access to public transportation in the Town of Franklin
  • $130,000 for the development of affordable and accessible senior housing in the Town of Franklin
  • $150,000 for the production of affordable, rental supportive senior housing in the Town of Franklin

  • $100,000 for the Town of Grafton to replace and upgrade the heating and ventilation units within the Grafton public schools
  • $125,000 for the Town of Grafton for security upgrades within the Grafton public schools

  • $300,000 for water infrastructure improvements in the Town of Holliston
  • $350,000 for improvements to sewer infrastructure in the Town of Holliston

  • $50,000 for the Town of Hopedale to preserve, manage and maintain open space

  • $100,000 for the Town of Hopkinton for initiatives to promote and increase equity, diversity and inclusion across all Town services and agencies
  • $30,000 for the Town of Hopkinton for costs related to the town’s efforts to be recognized as an age-friendly and dementia-friendly community
  • $30,000 for the Town of Hopkinton for programs and trainings related to police officer mental health, wellness and suicide prevention
  • $100,000 for the Town of Hopkinton to provide economic recovery support to local businesses, including through grants to businesses to assist with reopening, expanding outdoor dining options and developing more downtown grocery options
  • $90,000 for the Town of Hopkinton to provide economic recovery support to members of the community, including through job training programs with a focus on populations, including immigrant populations, that have been disproportionately impacted by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic
  • $300,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to schools and public buildings in the Town of Hopkinton

  • $400,000 for the Town of Hudson for the completion of the Assabet Riverwalk Project and riverbank stabilization
  • $50,000 for the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority for the deployment of 2 micro-transit vehicles in the center of the Town of Hudson, to provide in-town transportation with connection to fixed routes in the city of Marlborough for Saturday service
  • $100,000 to the Fresh Start Furniture Bank in the Town of Hudson for the purchase of bedding and other furniture to be used for the placement of Afghan families and refugees in the Commonwealth
  • $50,000 shall be made available for the Hudson Cultural Alliance, Inc. for the planning, construction, renovation, property management and maintenance work at the Hudson Armory located at the intersection of Park Street and Washington Street in the Town of Hudson

  • $250,000 for the Town of Littleton for construction and upgrades to the town's sewer infrastructure

  • $190,000 for the City of Marlborough for the procurement of OpenGov online permitting software
  • $200,000 for an upgrade to the infrastructure necessary for broadband access in the City of Marlborough

  • $410,000 for the Town of Maynard for wastewater infrastructure improvement projects
  • $500,000 for the Town of Maynard to make safety improvements to the intersection of Route 27 and Concord Street
  • $50,000 for the Town of Maynard for the benefit of ArtSpace Maynard

  • $350,000 to the Town of Medway for costs associated with the construction of a water treatment plant

  • $150,000 for Community Impact in the Town of Milford to maintain a regional substance abuse outreach, intervention, recovery and outpatient program in the greater Milford area

  • $100,000 for the Town of Millis for the construction of a PFAS substances filtration plant

  • $200,000 for the Town of Natick to improve the town’s website, enhance the town’s remote meeting capabilities and provide technological upgrades within the Town Hall building and other town buildings for remote meetings and remote participation
  • $150,000 for the Town of Natick to conduct a study on improving the integration and accessibility of human services in the town
  • $100,000 for the Natick Housing Authority to provide upgrades at housing facilities, including improvements related to kitchens, generators emergency management, and accessibility
  • $150,000 for Natick public schools for after-school tutoring support and mental health services

  • $50,000 for a new town salt shed in the Town of Norfolk
  • $100,000 to the Town of Norfolk for development of a Town Center wastewater treatment plant

  • $70,000 for the Town of Southborough for the purposes of repairing a collapsed culvert on Northboro Road
  • $100,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades to public buildings in the Town of Southborough

  • $100,000 to the Town of Plainville for a new water well

  • $100,000 to the Town of Sherborn for water infrastructure improvements at the Leeland Farms and Woodhaven housing complexes

  • $75,000 for the Town of Shrewsbury to establish a food bank and related programs to be operated by the town in partnership with private non-profit organizations currently operating on a limited basis
  • $205,000 for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, Inc. to provide short-term crisis and treatment planning for those on the waitlist for high-level care and to partner with various community resources to identify and provide case management to families in need of social services
  • $50,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades for the Town of Shrewsbury public schools

  • $300,000 for the Town of Stow for the development and installation of new firefighting water cisterns

  • $150,000 for PFAS substances mitigation by the Sudbury water district
  • $25,000 to the Sudbury Community Food Pantry, Inc. in Town of Sudbury for food security infrastructure
  • $75,000 to the Sudbury housing trust in the Town of Sudbury for mortgage subsidies

  • $100,000 for Town of Upton to replace and upgrade heating and ventilation units within municipal buildings
  • $35,000 to the Town of Upton for the design and construction of a park

  • $100,000 for the Town of Wayland for PFAS substances mitigation

  • $25,000 for the Westborough Food Pantry, Inc. to provide assistance to individuals experiencing food insecurity

  • $350,000 for the Town of Westford for the purchase of personal protection equipment, cleaning and disinfecting supplies, air filters and other costs associated with the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in the Town of Westford

  • $150,000 to the Town of Wrentham for public water supply research and installation

495/MetroWest Partnership to Host Presentation
on #InvestInWaterMA Initiative

The Water Resources Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership will host a presentation and discussion on the #InvestInWaterMA initiative on Tuesday, January 11th at 8:30 AM. The #InvestInWaterMA effort aims to see water, sewer, and wastewater infrastructure prioritized for new infrastructure funding. State and federal policymakers will be making critical decisions about where and how to invest billions of dollars in federal infrastructure and COVID relief funding in the coming months and years.

Key messages of the campaign include the funding gap for cities, towns, and regional water utilities for water infrastructure needs, and the positive relationship between water/ wastewater infrastructure investment and increased economic activity. The effort is being led by the Utility Contractors Association of New England (UCANE) with the support of the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts, MassBIO, the Massachusetts Water Works Association, NAIOP, the New England Water Works Association, and the Wastewater Advisory Committee to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. To learn more about the effort visit

The informational presentation and discussion for 495/MetroWest Partnership stakeholders on Tuesday, January 11th at 8:30 AM will be hosted virtually via Zoom; click here to register.
Webinar: New Round of Shared Streets & Spaces Grant Program

MassDOT is planning to open a new round of the Shared Streets and Spaces grant program in January 2022. MAPC will host a webinar on the next round of funding on Wednesday, January 5th, 2022 at 10:00 AM; click here to register for the webinar. The new round of funding will focus on transit and roadway safety.

The webinar will provide details regarding the new round of funding, and will include a presentation from MassDOT. The webinar will also include a presentation from the Barr Foundation on a new report, Quick and Creative Street Projects, that provides results from 23 municipalities that received program funding throughout 2020 and 2021.

The Shared Streets and Spaces Grant Program was first established in June 2020 in the wake of the pandemic to assist municipalities in meeting their individual needs for more and safer outdoor recreation, commerce, community activities, and mobility. The program was then relaunched in November 2020 to help municipalities address the particular challenges of winter amid the ongoing public health crisis. Grant-funded projects have ranged from dedicated bus and bike lanes to seasonal parklets, road diets, safer crosswalks, and new bike share stations.
In Case You Missed It: Check Out the 495/MetroWest
Supply Chain Directory

In response to nationwide supply chain issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 495/MetroWest Partnership has undertaken an effort to support and promote businesses in the region engaged in manufacturing, supplying raw materials, warehousing, transportation, and logistics. The Partnership is pleased to launch the 495/MetroWest Supply Chain Directory, an online informational resource focused on enhancing information about these businesses, aimed at supporting regional supply chain resiliency and encouraging local sourcing. The new directory can be accessed online at

The project was funded through a grant awarded from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, as part of its 2021 Regional Pilot Program, a statewide effort to spur economic activity as the state reopened following pandemic-related closures.
The directory launched with over 250 businesses across the 36 cities and towns served by the 495/MetroWest Partnership. Eligible businesses may request to be included in the directory via a portal available directly on the site; there is no cost to a business to be listed. To be eligible, a business must have a physical presence in one of the region’s 36 cities and towns, and produce unfinished goods, components, or materials not intended for retail sale to the public, or otherwise be engaged in transportation and logistics.

The directory is intended to be a living project; businesses interested in being included are encouraged to submit their information through the +Add Your Business portal at the top of the directory.

Statistics about businesses currently listed in the directory:
  • 93 different industries are represented across all manufacturing listings
  • The top two manufacturing industries are Machine Shops and Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing
  • National Security and Medicinal & Botanical Manufacturing represent two of the most common client industries of the region’s manufacturers
  • The region has a strong presence of Chemical and Allied Products and Electronic Parts and Equipment wholesalers
  • Of municipalities in the region, Hudson has highest concentration of firms, followed by Franklin and Holliston. Marlborough had the most significant presence of multinational firms

Information available through the directory includes basic company descriptions, products or services produced, website and contact information, as well as client industries served. The new directory also includes information on transportation and logistics, highlighting the region’s convenient proximity to large and small airports, ports, highways, and rail infrastructure.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you:
Jason Palitsch, Executive Director
(774) 760-0495 x105

Thank you for your continued commitment to strengthening our region.