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MBTA Community Initiative

Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities

In January 2021, the Massachusetts legislature approved changes to the Zoning Act. The new Section 3A of M.G.L. c. 40A now 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

Norwood is one of 175 municipalities in the state that is considered an MBTA Community due to its access to both bus and commuter rail transit nodes. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is overseeing compliance with these new requirements, and has issued preliminary guidance on implementation. Although the implementation phase will allow for ample time for communities to pass new zoning, once it is fully operational, non compliant communities will not be eligible for various state funding programs. 

Status Updates and Resources:
DHCD issued preliminary guidelines in December 2021. You can locate that guidance here: https://www.mass.gov/doc/draft-guidelines-for-mbta-communities/download 
A memo from the Planning Department to the Planning Board describing how the guidelines apply to Norwood: Memo 3.7.22


DHCD will accept public comment on this guidance until March 31, 2022 and issue final guidelines in Summer 2022. Norwood's Planning Board is currently reviewing these initial guidelines and will begin the process of identifying appropriate locations for the newly mandated zoning districts in early 2022. Updates will be posted on this page. Questions about these new requirements may be directed to cped@norwoodma.gov.