Hey Blogging Belmont readers. There’s a meeting tonight of Belmont’s MBTA Communities Advisory Committee that you want to attend. The meeting starts at 5:30 PM at the Homer Building at the Town Hall complex, or you can tune in via Zoom.
On the agenda: creating a plan for public participation as Belmont develops its plans for multifamily districts in Town, ahead of the 2024 Town Meeting vote to approve the new zoning.
The back story here is Belmont’s work to comply with a state law, M.G.L c. 40A Section 3A (the Zoning Act), which requires an MBTA community (that is: a community served by the MBTA) to have at least 1 zoning district “of reasonable size” in which multi-family housing (three or more units on a single site) is permitted “as-of-right”.
According to the 2020 Census, Belmont currently has 10,882 housing units. To comply with Section 3A, Belmont must establish one (or more) as-of-right zoning districts that total at least 27 acres and have a zoned capacity for 1,632 units. We’re all well aware of the dire housing shortage in Massachusetts that has caused the price of buying a home or renting to shoot into the stratosphere. That, in turn, is driving young workers and families out of the state in search of more affordable places to live – a trend that promises to hobble our economy over the long term.
The MBTA Communities law was passed to address this looming crisis by removing exclusionary, local barriers that prevent housing development and put new policies in place that allow for people and our communities to thrive, according to Whitney Demetrius, Director of Fair Housing Engagement at Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA).
Here in town, the new law provides Belmont with the unique, once in a generation opportunity to increase affordable housing, support local businesses, increase our commercial tax base, foster diversity, and make it easier for people to get around without always having to drive.
As Rachel Heller, co-Chair of the Belmont Housing Trust and a member of the Committee notes: the new law provides Belmont with a historic opportunity to increase affordable housing, support local businesses, increase its commercial tax base, foster diversity, and make it easier for people to get around without always having to drive. (Count me in!)
Over the next few months, the MBTA Communities Advisory Committee, in consultation with the community, will help determine where these new zoning districts should be and what they should look like, and that’s what tonight’s meeting is about.
Turn out to the Gallery on the third floor of the Homer Building at 5:30 or join via Zoom using the button below:
You can find the agenda for tonight’s meeting here.
Rachel also shared some more information related to the law. Use the links below to familiarize yourself with the law and :
- Belmont MBTA Communities Advisory Committee webpage
- Guiding Goals and Principles the Committee is using to identify locations for multifamily zoning
- Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) website for Belmont’s multifamily zoning work. MAPC is our technical assistance provider for this work.
- “Belmont Embraces MBTA Zoning Challenge“, a piece I wrote for Belmont Citizens Forum with Planning Board Member, Thayer Donham
- “Belmont Needs More Affordable Housing“, a piece I wrote for Belmont Citizens Forum with Housing Trust Member, Tomi Olson
- Attorney General Campbell’s Advisory on Requirements of MBTA Communities Zoning Law
- Center for Housing Data with housing and zoning data for every community in Massachusetts
I’ll see you there!!