Housing Choice Legislation

Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 included a series of revisions to MGL Chapter 40A, commonly known as the Zoning Act, which applies to 350 cities and towns in Massachusetts. The City of Boston operates under its own enabling act. This page includes guidance and other key information on these changes.

Table of Contents

Voting Threshold Guidance

Chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 (sometimes referred to as the economic development legislation of 2020) made several amendments to Chapter 40A of the General Laws, commonly known as the Zoning Act.  Among these amendments are (1) changes to section 5 of the Zoning Act, which reduce the number of votes required to enact certain kinds of zoning ordinances and bylaws from a ⅔ supermajority to a simple majority; and (2) changes to section 9 of the Zoning Act, making similar changes to the voting thresholds for the issuance of certain kinds of special permits.

Section 100 of said chapter 358 directs “[t]he executive office of housing and economic development [to] issue guidance to assist local officials in determining the voting thresholds for various zoning amendments.  Such guidance shall be assembled in consultation with the department of housing and community development, the Massachusetts attorney general's municipal law unit, and Massachusetts Housing Partnership.”  This guidance is intended to comply with that directive.

Request an Advisory Opinion on Ch.40A Eligible Locations

If there is uncertainty about whether a zoning proposal affects an eligible location, a municipality may request an advisory opinion from EOHED. Such a request must be made by the mayor, city council, board of aldermen, or planning board (when the zoning amendment is proposed in a city); or by the select board or planning board (when the zoning amendment is proposed in a town). A request may not be made by an individual member of the council or board. EOHED will endeavor to provide a written advisory opinion within 30 days of receipt of a complete request.

Resources and Documents

Date published: February 26, 2021
Last updated: May 20, 2021

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