At the end of February, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development issued new guidance on Housing Choice, a component of the comprehensive economic development law signed in January that made changes to Chapter 40A.

With spring town meeting season upon us, Housing and Economic Development acted expeditiously to issue guidance so that municipalities are positioned to act on the changes in the law. The guidance document is, however, subject to change.

Housing and Economic Development plans to publish more materials to assist with the implementation effort. The office also welcomes feedback from municipalities.

Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 (sometimes referred to as the economic development legislation of 2020) made several amendments to Chapter 40A of the General Laws, commonly known as the Zoning Act. Among these amendments are changes to Section 5 of the Zoning Act, which reduce the number of votes required to enact certain kinds of zoning ordinances and bylaws from a two-thirds supermajority to a simple majority; and changes to Section 9 of the Zoning Act, making similar changes to the voting thresholds for the issuance of certain kinds of special permits.

Section 100 of Chapter 358 directs the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development to “issue guidance to assist local officials in determining the voting thresholds for various zoning amendments.” Such guidance shall be developed in consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Municipal Law Unit in the Attorney General’s Office, and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.