MMA involved in new zoning task force

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The MMA is participating in a new group convened by the Patrick administration to reform the state’s Zoning Act.

The group, chaired by Greg Bialecki, the assistant secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development who serves as the state’s  “permitting ombudsman,” intends to draft legislation that would amend the Zoning Act. At the urging of the MMA, the group will be considering many of the proposals contained within the Community Planning Act (CPA II), which was developed by the Zoning Reform Working Group in order to enhance Home Rule authority over land-use decisions and provide new planning tools for communities.

Many of the Zoning Act reforms contained in CPA II were discussed during the October meeting of the task force, including:

• Repeal of “approval not required”

• Bringing “grandfathering” provisions in line with those in other states

• Authorizing municipalities to levy impact fees on growth

• Creating a mediation process to reduce litigation over local zoning decisions

• Authorizing inclusionary zoning

The group includes many of the same organizations that the MMA has been working with as part of the Zoning Reform Working Group. Representatives from the development and real estate communities are also at the table.

The MMA argues that the group should use CPA II as a starting point. If more is to be done, it should be done in the form of incentives, such as financial and technical assistance for plan development.

The MMA is also engaged in discussions with proponents of legislation that would establish Chapter 40T, a new program to help communities finance infrastructure improvements using a quasi-special assessment betterment district. The MMA’s Policy Committee on Municipal and Regional Administration has convened a subcommittee to work out concerns about the proposal, such as the establishment of a government structure within these betterment districts that would have roles mirroring the roles and responsibilities already performed by local governments.

Written by Administrator