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It means that means development is allowed by zoning without the need for a special permit or other discretionary zoning approval.
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To combat the increasingly high costs of housing. According to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (HLC):
For the purposes of this legislation, “multi-family housing” means a building with 3 or more residential dwelling units.
Multifamily housing is currently allowed in certain districts by special permit through the Planning Board or Town Council. There are currently no zoning districts that allow multi-family housing as-of-right.
Section 3A requires zoning that allows for multi-family housing at a minimum density for future development, not a count of what currently exists within a district.
Compliance with section 3A is in addition to any state thresholds for the number of affordable units a community should have.
The chapter 3A law is to enact zoning that imagines a future when parcels are redeveloped. Any existing uses and structures may remain in place and do not impact the possibility of future zoning.
There is no construction requirement OR timeline. The law requires zoning to PERMIT the development of residential units over time. Actual production may or may not happen.
We can allow it but may not REQUIRE it. Residential units must be permitted on all floors.
Section 3A does not discuss affordable housing. The most recent guidelines allow for communities to include a 10% affordable housing requirement in Section 3A zoning districts. Any affordable requirement above 10% must undergo an independent economic feasibility study.
In Randolph's form of government and under state law, the Planning Board must provide recommendations to the Town Council who then adopts (with or without amendments) the map and zoning language. Each of their meetings to deliberate on the topic are public hearings.
The Town has until the end of 2024 to approve the maps and zoning. If the Town fails to adopt it, we will not be eligible for certain types of funding such as MassWorks and Housing Choice grants. Additionally, some funding to the Randolph Housing Authority will be impacted and the Town may face civil enforcement action.
In March 2023, the State Attorney General, Andrea Joy Campbell, issued an advisory that Section 3A “was enacted to address the Commonwealth’s acute need for housing by facilitating the development of transit-oriented, multifamily housing. By any measure, Massachusetts is in a housing crisis that is inflicting unacceptable economic, social, and environmental harms across our state – particularly on working families and people of color. The Law directly responds to this crisis by implementing zoning reforms that require MBTA Communities to permit reasonable levels of multifamily housing development near transit stations.” The advisory goes on to state that all MBTA Communities must comply with Section 3A as there is no ability to opt out. Communities that fail to comply may be subject to civil enforcement action and also risk liability under federal and state fair housing laws.
We can regulate height, parking, setbacks and other factors but the Town may not dictate the type of ownership of any residential unit.
Approximately 6464 acres of land and 256 acres of water.
Town owned land is exempt from these regulations.