Executive Order

Executive Order No. 426: Establishing the Governor's Special Commission on Barriers to Housing Development

Date: 01/23/2001
Issuer: Argeo Paul Cellucci
Mass Register: No. 914

Table of Contents

WHEREAS, the supply of housing in the Commonwealth has not kept pace with the demand, resulting in an escalation of housing prices and a shortage of housing supply;

WHEREAS, unnecessarily strict zoning, permitting, septic system standards and other local requirements can, at times, unreasonably deter the development of much needed housing;

WHEREAS, residential development can be further impeded by state building codes and other regulations that pertain to buildings and structures which are overly restrictive, conflicting, duplicative or inconsistently interpreted and enforced by local building and fire prevention officials as well as by local plumbing, gas, electrical and health inspectors;

WHEREAS, regulations and requirements relating to housing development are unnecessarily restrictive, conflicting, duplicative or inconsistently interpreted and enforced may constitute an unreasonable financial and administrative burden on builders and housing developers without advancing public health, public safety and environmental protection goals;

WHEREAS, such regulations and requirements can frustrate their original purpose - to protect housing consumers of the Commonwealth - by driving purchase and rental prices of housing upwards, limiting options for safe and desirable housing; and

WHEREAS, the citizens and businesses of the Commonwealth will be better served by eliminating (i) unduly restrictive local zoning and permitting requirements, (ii) overly strict and inconsistent septic system requirements, (iii) conflicting and duplicative building regulations, and (iv) inconsistent interpretation and enforcement of such regulations.

NOW THEREFORE, I, ARGEO PAUL CELLUCCI, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Supreme Executive Magistrate, do hereby order as follows:

Section 1. There is hereby established the Governor's Special Commission on Barriers to Housing Development (the "Commission"). The Commission shall systematically review and advise the Governor on which governmental requirements, as interpreted or enforced, impede the development of housing, raise housing production costs and exacerbate the Commonwealth's housing supply shortage. The Commission shall make recommendations to the Governor as to specific legislative, regulatory, policy and operational changes that are required to remove, or otherwise ease, such barriers to residential development so as to create housing that is affordable across a wide range of incomes and available throughout a broad spectrum of the Commonwealth's neighborhoods.

Section 2. The Commission shall consist of no less than thirteen (13) members appointed by the Governor, including a representative of the Executive Offices of Administration and Finance, Housing & Community Development, Environmental Protection, Public Safety, Public Health and of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency. The Governor shall appoint the Co-Chairs of the Commission. The remaining members shall have knowledge of and experience in local housing issues or housing development. The members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

Section 3. The Co-Chairs of the Commission shall establish two committees - the Building and Specialty Code Coordinating Committee ("BSCCC") and the Septic System Regulatory Review Committee ("SCRRC") - and appoint a chairperson to each such committee. The committees' membership shall be determined at the discretion of the Co- Chairs of the Commission. Each such committee will meet at such times and places as established by its chairperson.

Section 3(a). The BSCCC shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Commission, on such date as set by the Commission. As part of its study, the BSCCC shall:

  • Identify duplication in the state administration of the state building code and related regulations and recommend how such administration may be made more efficient and cost-effective with regard to housing development.
  • Identify existing state code provisions and related regulations that are inordinately restrictive or burdensome to housing developers and recommend how such restrictions might be eased to facilitate the development of new and affordable houses.
  • Assess how local officials interpret the state building code and related regulations and identify, if necessary, what measures are needed to ensure that local officials are accurately, consistently and fairly interpreting the state building code to promote and not impede residential development. 
  • Identify how zoning requirements may inhibit the development of affordable housing and recommend how municipalities may strike a balance between the desire for minimum lot size requirements and the need to ease those requirements in order to allow for moderate housing options.

Section 3(b ). The SCRRC shall submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the Commission, on such date as set by the Commission. As part of its study, the SCRRC shall:

  • Identify whether local municipalities have regulations or by-laws relating to Title 5 - which governs on-site subsurface sewage systems - that vary from the state's requirements, and if so, whether such variations are justified by sound scientific principles.
  • Make such recommendations, if found necessary, to ensure that Title 5 is addressed and enforced on the local level in accord with sound scientific principles so that housing development is not unnecessarily impeded.

Section 4. The Commission shall be responsible for framing and directing the tasks to be undertaken by the committees. In addition to those tasks set forth above, the Commission shall identify and address such additional tasks that must be accomplished in order for the Commission to meet its objective stated in Section 1.

Section 5. The Commission shall meet at such times and places as established by the Co-Chairs. It shall prepare and submit its written report, together with those recommendations and findings of the committees that it adopts, to the Governor by June 30,2001.

Given at the Executive Chamber in Boston this 23rd day of January in the year two thousand one.

Argeo Paul Cellucci, Governor

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

William Francis Galvin

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Contact for No. 426: Establishing the Governor's Special Commission on Barriers to Housing Development

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