New Zoning Law Goes Into Effect This Year

Housing may get cheaper in Massachusetts next year.

A new law going into effect affects 177 towns and cities across eastern Massachusetts, with an exemption for Boston. It would require towns and cities with either an MBTA stop or adjacent to one to increase zoning for multi-family housing.

The amount of housing they need to zone for varies based on factors like the amount of stops, traffic, and population. Newton needs to zone for 8,330 multi-family housing units while Princeton, a town of less than 3,500 people, only needs to zone for 69 housing units.

The law is designed to improve housing affordability across Massachusetts, a state ranked 45th in housing affordability.

Supporters hope that the bill will improve housing affordability across the state while also improving local economies by increasing population since, with how high housing costs are, many Mass communities have stagnated in population.

However, the bill has its critics, with many opposed to the bill due to concerns about overcrowding towns, schools not having the resources to handle an influx of students, and it negatively affecting their housing prices.

Many towns opposed the measure while it was being debated in the state legislature in 2020, and many tried to lobby then Governor Charlie Baker to veto the bill.

Towns have complained that the bill takes away their local control of zoning, a practice that towns have had for decades in Massachusetts.

The bill goes into effect by the end of 2023 for the highest traffic towns, with lesser trafficked towns ranging from 2024 to 2025. Bridgewater must zone for 1,401 multi-family housing units by the end of 2024.

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