82 State Reps Call for Zoning ReformMay 31, 2018
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:
- 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.
- Expediting certain kinds of appeals by limiting court review to whether or not the local permit decision was made appropriately.
- A mediation process at the local level to resolve permitting disputes.
- 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.
- Providing notice to the board of health when a development project application is submitted to a municipality.
- Authorizing “site plan review,” a tool that helps communities to improve project design while ensuring prompt approval for developers.
- Making it easier for developers to “cluster” homes in a subdivision to conserve land and reduce construction costs.
- Enabling more single family homeowners to create a modest “accessory apartment” within the home for relatives, caretakers, or rental.
- Extending the time municipalities have to exercise a right of first refusal to purchase agricultural land or recreational land.
- Reform of unregulated “Approval Not Required” development, if a community is willing to adopt a Minor Subdivision Ordinance or By-Law.
- Encouraging more multifamily housing in sensible locations.
- Clarifying that discriminatory actions in zoning and permitting are not allowed under Massachusetts law.
- 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