June 2018
Special Edition of "On the Level"
 
HBRAMA joins coalition to support passage of housing choices bill

A real estate coalition made up of the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts, Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Massachusetts Association of Realtors®, NAIOP—The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, together with the Massachusetts Municipal Association, has issued a joint letter in support of House Bill No. 4290, An Act to promote housing choices. Read here.

The groups have come together to back Governor Baker’s Housing Choices legislation because of the lack of housing available to meet current and future demand. 

The participation of the Massachusetts Municipal Association in this coalition is historic, as that organization has historically opposed most legislation to increase housing production.

H. 4290 would amend the state’s Zoning Act (G.L. c. 40A) to make it easier for cities and towns to adopt pro-housing and pro-development zoning changes. It would do so by reducing the required vote of a city council or town meeting from 2/3rds to a simple majority. The only types of zoning articles that would be eligible for approval by a mere majority are the following:

1.  An amendment to a zoning ordinance or by-law to allow any of the following as of right:

(a) multifamily housing or mixed-use development in a location that would qualify as an eligible location for a smart growth zoning district under section 2 of chapter 40R of the general laws;
(b) accessory dwelling units; or
(c) open-space residential development.

2.  An amendment to a zoning ordinance or by-law to allow by special permit:

(a) multifamily housing or mixed-use development in a location that would qualify as an eligible location for a smart growth zoning district under section 2 of chapter 40R of the general laws;
(b) an increase in the permissible density of population or intensity of a particular use in a proposed development pursuant to section 9 of chapter 40A of the general laws; or (
c) a diminution in the amount of parking required for residential or mixed-use development pursuant to section 9 of chapter 40A of the general laws;

3.  Zoning ordinances or by-laws or amendments thereto that (a) provide for TDR zoning or natural resource protection zoning in instances where the adoption of such zoning promotes concentration of development in areas that the municipality deems most appropriate for such development, but will not result in a diminution in the maximum number of housing units that could be developed within the municipality; or (b) modify regulations concerning the bulk and height of structures, yard sizes, lot area, setbacks, open space, parking and building coverage requirements to allow for additional housing units beyond what would otherwise be permitted under the existing zoning ordinance or by-law.

4.  The adoption of a smart growth zoning district or starter home zoning district in accordance with section 3 of chapter 40R of the general laws.

Passage of H. 4290 would be a significant victory for the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Massachusetts. It would enable homebuilders and developers to work in collaboration with municipal officials to put forward zoning changes that would facilitate needed housing production. By reducing the required vote from a supermajority to a mere majority, this legislation will greatly increase the chances that such zoning ordinances and bylaws will be approved in a community.

The Massachusetts Legislature has until July 31 st to enact this important housing legislation.
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