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MBTA Community Act

Hello all,

I have received many phone calls regarding the “MBTA COMMUNITY ACT”. Also known as a new Zoning Act, MGL c. 40A § 3A. As a service to our developer clients, builders, engineers, attorneys, and associates, Delphic is providing the information below regarding the ACT.

Regulations have not been promulgated by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) as of this date. The following is what I know.

I have tried to be as correct as possible. Please be aware this program is still evolving.

Once promulgated by “EOHLC” developers will be allowed a much higher density for multi-family units, including single family homes in an MBTA Communities, without special permits and approvals needed by zoning and planning boards. I expect the Act will have an “affordability component”. There are 177 Massachusetts municipalities that are considered MBTA communities, which means they have public transportation or are located near it.

There are four (4) types of communities affected by this legislation, each have specific deadlines to submit:

  • RAPIC TRANSIT COMMUNITIES – Fourteen (14) Greater Boston cities and towns, that initially hosted MBTA service, must submit their district compliance applications by December 31, 2023.
  • COMMUNITY RAIL COMMUNITIES – Fifty-one (51) communities that also host MBTA service but joined later) must submit their district compliance application by December 31, 2024.
  • ADJACENT COMMUNITIES – Must submit their district compliance application by December 31, 2024

ADJACENT SMALL TOWNS – Must submit their district compliance application by December 31, 2025.

On August 10, 2022, DHCD, (now Executive Office of Housing & Livable Communities; EOHLC) issued Final Guidelines (MGL c.40A § 3A) for MBTA communities to comply with the new laws.

The new law requires that an MBTA community shall have at least one (1) zoning district of reasonable size, in which multi-family housing is permitted as of Right, and meet its additional criteria:

  • Minimum Gross density of 15 units/acre (less for some, depending on the type of MBTA community).
  • Located not more than 0.5 miles away from any Commuter rail, subway, ferry terminal or bus station.
  • No age restrictions and suitable for families with children

If the communities do not comply with the law, within the deadline for compliance, the community risks a loss of eligibility for the community, for certain state funding programs.

I have attached a list of all the communities, with their MBTA designation.

Some of the communities that are of great interest to Delphic and their clients might be:

Abington Commuter rail Avon (Excluded!!!??) Exclude (?)
Bellingham Adjacent Community Berkley Adjacent small community
Bridgewater Commuter Rail Dartmouth Excluded (?)
Dighton Excluded (?) Dover Adjacent small community
Duxbury Adjacent Community Easton Adjacent Community
Foxborough Adjacent Community Freetown Commuter rail
Grafton Adjacent Community Hanson Commuter rail
Halifax Commuter rail Holliston Adjacent Community
Kingston Commuter rail Lakeville Adjacent Community
Mansfield Commuter rail Marshfield Adjacent Community
Medway Adjacent Community Mendon Excluded (?)
Norfolk Commuter rail Norton Adjacent Community
Plymouth Adjacent Community Rockland Adjacent Community
Scituate Commuter rail Seekonk Adjacent Community
Shrewsbury Adjacent Community Somerset Excluded (?)
Sterling Adjacent small community Swansea Excluded (?)
Taunton Commuter rail Walpole Commuter rail
West Boylston Adjacent Community West Bridgewater Adjacent small community
If you would like to receive a copy of the list of the designation of all communities, please call our office at 508 994-4100 and ask for Heidi.