The Department of Housing and Community Development has released revisions to its Compliance Guidelines for Multi-Family Zoning Districts Under Section 3A of the Zoning Act for MBTA communities.

The revisions, issued on Oct. 21, come in response to a number of MBTA communities voicing concerns about their own approved inclusionary zoning and affordability requirements, which were incompatible with the final guidelines that were issued in August.

The revisions:
• Eliminate the requirement that affordable units be eligible for listing on the DHCD’s Subsidized Housing Inventory, thereby allowing communities to include requirements of workforce housing units
• Enable communities to set income limits for affordable units below 80% of area median income, provided that a variety of multifamily housing types can be feasibly developed at those income levels
• Enable communities to require that more than 10% (but no more than 20%) of the units in a project be affordable provided that a variety of multifamily housing types can be feasibly developed at that percentage
• Require that economic feasibility be demonstrated for all inclusionary zoning requirements above the 10% level, including those that pre-date the guidelines
• Allow an exception to the 20% cap on affordable units for communities that have already approved and adopted 40R “smart growth” zoning districts

Enacted as part of the 2021 economic development law, Section 3A of Chapter 40A (the Zoning Act) requires the state’s 175 MBTA communities to have at least one zoning district of reasonable size near a transit station in which multifamily housing is permitted as of right — and meet other criteria set forth in the statute — or risk a loss of eligibility for funding from the state’s MassWorks program, Housing Choice Initiative, or Local Capital Projects Fund.

All MBTA communities must achieve at least interim compliance — by submitting an action plan for full compliance — by Jan. 31, 2023.

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