"An act building for the future of the Commonwealth" H 2420

Filed by Representatives Stephen Kulik and Sarah Peake

Reform our state’s planning, zoning, and permitting laws to support communities that work for families and seniors. Great neighborhoods offer housing choices, are vibrant and healthy places that protect open space and natural resources, and allow cities & towns to plan for the future.

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Supporting families and seniors by offering housing choices

  • We are producing less than half of the homes we need annually, particularly those suitable for young families and seniors. The cost of housing continues to rise, making it hard for young and old to stay in their communities.
  • The bill promotes more multifamily housing in sensible locations, while allowing for regional and local differences.
  • The bill will allow for more accessory dwelling units so that seniors can live with family or caregivers or make additional income to stay in their homes.
  • More artist live-work spaces will help artists and promote lively neighborhoods.
  • By making variances rules more reasonable, minor renovations will make it possible for families to change their homes as their needs evolve.
  • The bill will make it illegal to discriminate through land-use decisions.

Promoting vibrant/healthy places, protecting open space and natural resources

  • Every day, thirteen acres of forests and farmland are lost to low-density sprawl. Yet people want to live in walkable neighborhoods, where they do not have to use a car as often. We must encourage walkable development patterns and a vibrant mix of uses.
  • By promoting more multifamily development in smart growth locations, we will have more neighborhoods that are walkable, bikeable and near suburban centers.
  • The bill promotes cluster development where large lots are required now, so that less land is consumed and critical natural resources preserved.
  • The bill reduces cookie-cutter development to curb roadside sprawl.
  • Notice of development projects to local boards of health.

Providing cities & towns with tools for planning their future

  • Our cities and towns are saddled with state zoning, subdivision and planning statutes that have not been overhauled since 1975. To plan for the future, they need 21 st century tools, better resources and more.
  • The bill enables cities and towns to study their infrastructure needs so fair development impact fees are charged.
  • Tools like inclusionary zoning, site plan review and form-based codes are authorized for the first time.
  • The bill allows lower thresholds for zoning and special permit approval, at local option.
  • The bill makes it easier to master plan, by streamlining the requirements.
  • Reduces abuse of “vesting” rules when rezoning is proposed.
  • Opportunities for training citizens who serve on local boards are expanded.
  • We support additional funding in the state budget for local planning and rezoning.

Take Action

We urge the Legislature to pass a bill this session that will strengthen "Great Neighborhoods" across the state by reforming the Commonwealth’s planning, zoning and permitting laws. We call for state leaders to make this legislation a top priority of the 2017-18 legislation session.

A successful bill must meet the following principles:

  • Establish predictable permitting rules to help small businesses, property owners, & municipalities make investments to keep our economy & communities strong. Important goals include minimizing court battles, reducing the cost of development, and responsibly and transparently sharing the costs and benefits of growth.
  • Make it easier for young families and seniors to stay in their communities by providing housing choices. These could include more multifamily housing, accessory apartments, and artist live/work spaces. Families should have the opportunity to live in the community they prefer without discrimination. State rules and incentives should encourage vibrant places that are welcoming to all generations.
  • Provide cities and towns with the tools they need to plan for the future so they can take on their fair share of the region’s growth while improving local finances and quality of life. More resources, clear authority and sensible procedures are needed to support local planning and zoning.
  • Promote healthy, active communities with good access to open space and protections for critical natural resources. Local zoning must encourage compact development patterns that are more walkable, bikable, and transit-friendly. By planning where we grow, we can reduce sprawl and protect our farms, forests and waterways to ensure that future generations can enjoy them.