Yearlong planning process aims to increase multifamily housing

Learn about MBTA Communities legislation, provide feedback

UPDATED Nov. 25: Arlington residents and officials plan to collaborate in a planning effort over the next year to shape a transit-related zoning effort seeking more multifamily housing here.Arlington via Google Earth: Your Town, Your Future

Volunteers in the MBTA Communities Working Group, aiming for extensive community engagement, plan to lead a process, to determine the location and details of town zoning district(s).

The result will be a zoning amendment presented to Special Town Meeting next fall.

View the draft schedule. 

Town, 174 other communities

The state has permitted Arlington, with 174 other communities in eastern Massachusetts with access to MBTA service, to create a district or districts where multifamily housing is allowed by right. By agreeing to this opportunity, the town becomes eligible for state grants for infrastructure projects, allowing it to participate in the state’s fossil-fuel ban pilot program. That ban aims to advance the town’s stated goal of creating net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

On Thursday, Nov. 17, town planning staff presented an overview of MBTA Communities legislation to describe the basic requirements of MGL Ch. 40A, Section 3A and what it means for Arlington, why compliance matters, potential starting points for considering how to locate Arlington’s district(s) and the schedule for engaging with the community to develop a zoning recommendation. The meeting included ample time for Q&A. 

Planning has offered to give this presentation to boards, committees and community groups as many times as reasonably requested. To schedule a presentation, contact Claire Ricker, planning director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Kelly Lynema, assistant planning director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have preliminary feedback, submit it using this feedback form, providing your email address if you wish to be added to future communication about this project. 

About M.G.L. Ch. 40A, Section 3A , guidelines

In 2020, Gov. Baker signed into law a requirement that communities with or adjacent to MBTA services create "at least one district of reasonable size in which multifamily housing is permitted as of right." Arlington, by virtue of its network of bus routes and proximity to Alewife Station, is one of these communities.

Updated guidelines from the state Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) indicate that Arlington is an "adjacent" community, and the zoning district or district where multifamily housing is permitted as of right does not have to be within proximity of Alewife Station.

Background documents, resources
  • Mass.Gov MBTA Communities page: This web page describes the new MBTA Communities law (MGL Ch. 40A, Section 3A), along with information about compliance, technical assistance, and other resources. 
  • DHCD guidelines: Final guidelines for compliance as developed by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. 
  • Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP): A round-up of information and resources regarding MBTA Communities. 

MHP MBTA Community webinar series: MHP has developed a series of 10 webinars regarding the MBTA Communities legislation. All webinars have been recorded, and videos are posted to MHP's website.

MBTA Communities Working Group members sought

The Redevelopment Board is seeking two to four residents to serve on the MBTA Communities Working Group, which will conduct outreach to the community to determine district location(s), analyze feedback from the community, identify ways to achieve compliance with MGL Ch. 40A, Section 3 and more.

If interested, find more details on the Committee Openings page.

Steve Revilak's summary of Nov. 17, 2022, meeting >>

Aug. 20, 2022: Does Arlington qualify to be in state 'electrify' pilot?


This news announcement was published Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, based on information from the Town of Arlington. It was updated to a news summary on Nov. 21, as well as on Nov. 25, to add a link to Revilak's notes.

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