News & Resources

Zoning Reform & Land-Use Partnership Act

The Land Use Partnership Act updates many planning statutes in Chapters 40A and 41with the potential to impact the entire state. In addition, the proposed legislation would allow municipalities to opt-in to a higher performance standard and receive new tools for directing development.

Land Use Partnership Act / Community Preservation Act /  Smart Growth Trust Fund / Surplus Land Disposition

Need for Zoning Reform

The Commonwealth’s outdated zoning and planning statutes discourage sustainable development, affordable housing, and the protection of natural resources. As a result, Massachusetts is losing land to development at a rate seven times its population growth. Zoning and planning reform is a necessary first step to help cities and towns spend infrastructure dollars efficiently, create fair housing opportunities, and address climate change.

Background on Zoning Reform Task Force

Starting in ____, Secretary Greg Bialecki led an 18-month process to explore zoning and planning reform with representatives from the environmental community, planners, development interests, business associations, and smart growth, housing, and municipal groups. Senator Chandler and Representative Honan filed the Task Force’s current draft of the Land Use Partnership Act (LUPA) at the start of the new legislative session. Going forward, Secretary Bialecki has expressed his intention to continue working with the Task Force and legislators to refine the bill and broaden its support.

Land Use Partnership Act Summary

The Land Use Partnership Act modernizes a number of zoning and planning statutes in Chapters 40A and 41 that will affect the entire state. In addition, the proposal allows municipalities to opt-in to a higher performance standard and thereby receive new tools for directing development. The higher standard is based on the state’s goals for housing, economic development, renewable energy, open space, and water resources. Regional Planning Agencies are responsible for certifying that the goals are met.

The bill seeks to fairly balance the interests of municipalities, developers, and the general public. This compromise includes many tradeoffs, but on a whole, it significantly advances sustainable planning and development in Massachusetts.