News & Resources

82 State Reps Call for Zoning Reform

Thanks to an outreach effort that included more than 450 activists from around the state, we are pleased to report that 82 state representatives signed on to a letter asking the Speaker to prioritize passing a Great Neighborhoods bill this session. This incredible response means that a majority of all House members are on record calling for action!

Reps. Steve Kulik and Sarah Peake are now working with their colleagues to determine what provisions could be included in a package that could come to the floor for a vote. As we await next steps, please check out the full text of the letter below to see if your state representative signed on and if so, please reach out to thank them for doing so. If they did not sign on, you can still encourage them to make zoning reform a priority here!

May 22, 2018


Honorable Robert A. DeLeo

Speaker of the House of Representatives

State House, Room 356

Boston, MA 02133


RE:     Zoning Reform and Housing Initiatives


Dear Mr. Speaker:

We are writing to express our support for a zoning reform and housing initiative package that reflects a balance and compromise of concerns and impacts expressed by interested parties in the fields of housing, planning, environment and municipal government.

Massachusetts families, especially seniors and young people, face a housing crisis that threatens to tear them from their communities and undermine our economic success and quality of life.  Businesses indicate that housing scarcity makes it difficult to attract and retain employees, while many cities and towns struggle to create vibrant, walkable places that can attract new investment.

Governor Baker’s “Housing Choice” bill, as reported out by the Housing Committee, can serve as a starting point to modernize the Commonwealth’s planning, zoning and permitting rules.  It contains simple majority approval for zoning improvements and special permits that help to produce and preserve housing, along with local option inter-municipal agreements to share costs and revenue from development.

In addition, we support including the following provisions:

  1. A training program for residents who serve on local planning and zoning boards. Funding has been included in a supplemental budget and will be distributed through the Department of Housing and Community Development.
  2. Expediting certain kinds of appeals by limiting court review to whether or not the local permit decision was made appropriately.
  3. A mediation process at the local level to resolve permitting disputes.
  4. When a zoning change is considered, requiring the planning board to provide an advisory report on whether the proposed change is consistent with the master plan.
  5. Providing notice to the board of health when a development project application is submitted to a municipality.
  6. Authorizing “site plan review,” a tool that helps communities to improve project design while ensuring prompt approval for developers.
  7. Making it easier for developers to “cluster” homes in a subdivision to conserve land and reduce construction costs.
  8. Enabling more single family homeowners to create a modest “accessory apartment” within the home for relatives, caretakers, or rental.
  9. Extending the time municipalities have to exercise a right of first refusal to purchase agricultural land or recreational land.
  10. Reform of unregulated “Approval Not Required” development, if a community is willing to adopt a Minor Subdivision Ordinance or By-Law.
  11. Encouraging more multifamily housing in sensible locations.
  12. Clarifying that discriminatory actions in zoning and permitting are not allowed under Massachusetts law.
  13. Establishing sensible parameters for property owners to vest their property rights, which will encourage municipalities to update their zoning.

State zoning, planning and subdivision statutes have not been significantly updated since 1975.  Passage of such a bill would be a worthy accomplishment and in line with the House’s tradition of reform.  In that regard, we respectfully request that the House take action on a comprehensive zoning reform and housing initiative package by the end of session.  Thank you in advance for your consideration.




Stephen Kulik                                      Sarah K. Peake                                     Patricia A. Haddad

1st Franklin District                               4th Barnstable District                            5th Bristol District


Paul A. Schmid, III                               Paul McMurtry                                     Andres X. Vargas

8th Bristol District                                  11th Norfolk District                             3rd Essex District


Christine P. Barber                                Byron Rushing                                     Brian Murray

34th Middlesex District                          9th Suffolk District                                10th Worcester District


Timothy R. Whelan                              Carmine L. Gentile                                John W. Scibak

1st Barnstable District                            13th Middlesex District                          2nd Hampshire District


Daniel M. Donahue                              David Paul Linsky                                Jay R. Kaufman

16th Worcester District                          5th Middlesex District                            15th Middlesex District


Cory Atkins                                          Randy Hunt                                          Mike Connolly

14th Middlesex District                          5th Barnstable District                            26th Middlesex District


Paul W. Mark                                       Jonathan Hecht                                     Natalie Higgins

2nd Berkshire District                            29th Middlesex District                         4th Worcester District


Aaron Vega                                          Stephan Hay                                         Kay Khan

5th Hampden District                             3rd Worcester District                            11th Middlesex District


Brian M. Ashe                                      Shaunna L. O’Connell                          James K. Hawkins

2nd Hampden District                            3rd Bristol District                                 2nd Bristol District


Adrian Madaro                                     Thomas M. Stanley                               Paul Tucker

1st Suffolk District                                9th Middlesex District                            7th Essex District


Denise C. Garlick                                 Jack Lewis                                            Jose F. Tosado

13th Norfolk District                             7th Middlesex District                            9th Hampden District


Frank I. Smizik                                     Juana B. Matias                                    Carolyn C. Dykema

15th Norfolk District                             16th Essex District                                 8th Middlesex District


Todd M. Smola                                    Marjorie C. Decker                               David M. Rogers

1st Hampden District                             25th Middlesex District                          24th Middlesex District


Mathew Muratore                                 Paul J. Donato                                      Bud Williams

1st Plymouth District                             35th Middlesex District                          11th Hampden District


Harold P. Naughton, Jr.                         Jay D. Livingstone                                Smitty Pignatelli

12th Worcester District                          8th Suffolk District                                4th Berkshire District


Joan Meschino                                     Susannah M. Whipps                            Carlos Gonzalez

3rd Plymouth District                             2nd Franklin District                              10th Hampden District


Frank A. Moran                                    Solomon Goldstein-Rose                      Antonio F. D. Cabral

17th Essex District                                 3rd Hampshire District                           13th Bristol District


Elizabeth A. Malia                                Sean Garballey                                     John Barrett

11th Suffolk District                              23rd Middlesex District                          1st Berkshire District


William C. Galvin                                Tricia Farley-Bouvier                           Daniel J. Ryan

6th Norfolk District                              3rd Berkshire District                             2nd Suffolk District


Louis L. Kafka                                     Dylan Fernandes                                  Steven S. Howitt

8th Norfolk District                               Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket          4th Bristol District


Angelo J. Puppolo, Jr.                           William L. Crocker, Jr.                         Ann-Margaret Ferrante

12th Hampden District                           2nd Barnstable District                           5th Essex District


John J. Mahoney                                  John C. Velis                                        Russell E. Holmes

13th Worcester District                          4th Hampden District                             6th Suffolk District


Kenneth I. Gordon                               Danielle W. Gregoire                            James J. Dwyer

21st Middlesex District                          4th Middlesex District                            30th Middlesex District


Shawn Dooley                                      Joseph W. McGonagle, Jr.                     Diana DiZoglio

9th Norfolk District                               28th Middlesex District                          14th Essex District


Mary S. Keefe                                       Daniel Cullinane                                   Tackey Chan

15th Worcester District                          12th Suffolk District                              2nd Norfolk District


Alan Silvia                                           Evandro C. Carvalho                            Jennifer E. Benson

7th Bristol District                                  5th Suffolk District                                37th Middlesex District


Rady Mom                                           Gerard Cassidy                                     Linda Dean Campbell

18th Middlesex District                          9th Plymouth District                             15th Essex District


Jeffrey N. Roy
10th Norfolk District