News & Resources

Saving time and money: Zoning Reform

hearingHaving reformed transportation agencies and health care, the Legislature is now primed to reform our state’s land use laws that govern planning and development.

A broad coalition of smart growth, public health, housing, environmental, and municipal advocates have come together behind a proposal that will save towns and developers time and money by reducing court fights and streamlining development in sensible locations while making it easier to preserve our local landscapes.

“We need more great places in Massachusetts,” says Andre Leroux, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance. “Right now, most of the wonderful historic neighborhoods in Massachusetts couldn’t be built today because of local regulations that are choking growth and encouraging cookie-cutter McMansions. This needs to change.”

Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) and Sen. Dan Wolf, House Bill 1859 attracted 58 legislators—one third of the Legislature—to sign on to submit the proposal.

Nearly one hundred supporters rallied and testified before the Municipalities Committee yesterday representing dozens of organizations ranging from the Environmental League of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Public Health Association to the Cape Cod Business Roundtable.

“Zoning reform isn’t sexy, but it’s what we need to bring housing and jobs to the cities and towns in Massachusetts,” said Sen. Harriette Chandler. “We’re going to get it done this session.”

At the May 14 hearing, there were more than three solid hours of testimony in favor of the bill, and two speakers opposed.

Along with the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, the zoning reform coalition includes:

  • American Planning Association, Massachusetts Chapter
  • Association to Preserve Cape Cod
  • Boston Society of Architects
  • City Solicitors and Town Counsel Association
  • Cape Cod Business Roundtable
  • Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association
  • Charles River Watershed Association
  • Conservation Law Foundation
  • Environmental League of Massachusetts
  • Mass Audubon
  • Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations
  • Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners
  • Massachusetts Association of Planning Directors
  • Massachusetts Public Health Association
  • Metropolitan Area Planning CouncilPioneer Valley Planning Commission
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Trustees of Reservations