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
Walpole is one of 175 municipalities in the state that is considered an MBTA Community due to its access to commuter rail. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is overseeing compliance with these new requirements, and has issued final guidance in August 2022 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.
- DHCD's Informational Page
- Final Guidelines
- Attorney General's Advisory Press Release
- Additional Resources, Presentations, Webinars
Walpole's Status and Updates:
*In order of earliest to most recent
April 12, 2022 - Presentation to the Select Board regarding draft guidelines
April 19, 2022 – DHCD’s 2022 Compliance Information Form Submitted
January 10, 2023 – Presentation to the Select Board regarding final guidelines
January 18, 2023 – DHCD’s Compliance Requirement for 2023
January 27, 2023 – Action Plan Approval
February 23, 2023 – Staff secured a Massachusetts Housing Partnership Technical Assistance Grant (3A-TA) - See 3A-TA Grant section below.
May 22, 2023 – Staff secured assistance through CHAPA's Community Engagement Technical Assistance Program. The program involves connections with similar-sized communities in order to discuss community outreach strategies.
September 27, 2023 - The Select Board voted to approve the formation of a MBTA Steering Committee for the purpose of providing guidance, outreach, and support in the creation and adoption of a necessary zoning map and bylaw amendment.
November 29, 2023 - Public Information Sessions
Walpole’s Community Category and Minimum Zoning Requirements:
|Community||Community Category||2020 Housing Units||Minimum Multi-family Unit Capacity*||Minimum Land Area**||Developable Station Area***||Percentage of the district to be located within the station area|
|Walpole||Commuter Rail||10,042||1,506||50 acres||638 acres||75%|
* Minimum multi-family unit capacity for most communities will be based on the 2020 housing stock and the applicable percentage for that municipality's community type. In some cases, the minimum unit capacity is derived from an extrapolation of the required minimum land area multiplied by the statutory minimum gross density of 15 dwelling units per acre. In cases where the required unit capacity from these two methods would exceed 25% of the community's housing stock, the required unit capacity has instead been capped at that 25% level.
** Minimum land area is 50 acres for all communities in the rapid transit, commuter rail and adjacent community types. There is no minimum land area requirement for adjacent small towns. Where 50 acres exceeds 1.5% of the developable land area in a town, a cap has been instituted that sets minimum land area to 1.5% of developable land area in the town.
*** Developable station area is derived by taking the area of a half-mile circle around an MBTA commuter rail station, rapid transit station, or ferry terminal and removing any areas comprised of excluded land.
|Rapid Transit Community||12/31/2023|
|Commuter Rail Community||12/31/2024 (This is Walpole)|
|Adjacent Small Town||12/31/2025|
3A-TA Grant Program:
- Award Letter
- First Technical Review Letter
- Second Technical Review Letter
- Third Technical Review Letter