MBTA New Housing Regulations

The zoning reforms Governor Baker enacted as a part of the Economic Development Bill in January 2021 year created a requirement that MBTA communities have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multifamily housing is permitted as of right and meets other criteria, including:

  • Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
  • No age restrictions
  • Suitable for families with children
  • Not more than ½ mile from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable

Millbury is designated as an “MBTA Adjacent Community” due to the Town of Grafton and City of Worcester having MBCR commuter rail stations. Therefore, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is demanding (because there are penalties if Millbury does not comply (i.e., loss of state funding for certain programs)) that Millbury and 174 other communities create a zoning district of at least 50 acres to allow the construction of a minimum of 15 dwelling units per acre. For Millbury, this would mean the addition of 750 multifamily dwelling units.

Community2020 Housing UnitsMinimum Multifamily District Unit Capacity Requirement% Of Increase
Auburn6,999+750+10%
Grafton7,760+1,164+13%
Millbury5,987+750+11%
Sutton3,612+750+17%
Worcester84,281+12,642+13%

It is unclear at this point, what this means for the Town of Millbury or our neighboring communities. What it does mean, however, is that we need to be involved in the process of shaping its implementation in the Town of Millbury, as much as we have been with the proposed Rice Pond Village project. It is our understanding that in order to create a zoning district, it would have to be voted upon by the voters of Millbury in a town meeting and then approved by the Massachusetts Attorney General in order for it to be enacted.