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January 21, 2006
Many Ideas for Reforming Chapter 40B
by John Andrews, MCHC

The State’s Chapter 40B land use law allows developers to ignore local zoning and planning if their development includes a small fraction of affordable housing units. This year at least 33 bills have been filed to make changes in 40B. Most seek to curb its abuses and make it more effective. A few would give even more power to developers.

Because of the influence of the developer lobby on Beacon Hill, most observers doubt that the Legislature will take any meaningful actions to address Chapter 40B abuses. But the legislation is on file.

Below is a list of the bills identified and briefly summarized by John Belskis of the Coalition to Reform 40B. To see the text of any Senate bill, go to http://www.mass.gov/legis/billsrch.htm and type in the Senate Bill number. House Bills may be found likewise by visiting http://www.mass.gov/legis/hbillsrch.htm


Senate Bills

786 Perpetuity of 40B units

787 Annual count of group homes, DMH/DMR, to DHCD

788 Count manufactured homes

789 Count untaxed land for exclusion determination

790 Looks like it was written by DHCD, CHAPA, MHP and developers. Huge and complex

796 No 40B granted until after General Court hears these bills

797 A 40B must be 100% affordable

798 40B units kept in perpetuity

807 Funds local education costs for children in 40B units

810 Permits approved developer to build on public land w/o competitive bidding (sewers water street etc)

House Bills

1570 No appeals to HAC if town is over 5% until all are over 5%

1571 No 40B if less than 20% of land commercial /industrial zoned and the minimum lots are 20,000’ w/sewer & water or 40,000’ without

1572 All kinds of “good” things like what counts, what applications must include, a mitigation fund, etc.etc.

1573 Limit profits to 10%

1574 Eliminates limited profit firms from 40B eligible

1575 Wipes out parts 20 through 23 of 40B law

1576 Counts mobile homes, in-law apartments, any 1st time public assistance buyers, toward the 10%

1577 Counts one half of mobile homes towards the 10%

1578 Density can’t exceed two times the existing

1579 Planning is the decision maker for 40B not ZBA (could be good or bad depending on the philosophy of your planners)

1580 Counts any units with federal funding, DMH/DMR units, section 8 housing.

1581 40B applications not transferable

1582 Does nothing. I don’t know what he was thinking

1583 Counts 12% of any sales or transfers at or below the affordable level and counts Section 8

1584 Counts inclusionary zoning units owned or rented

1585 ZBA’s must consider the financial feasibility

1586 Puts a three year moratorium on sections 20 through 23

1587 Low / Moderate defined as 65% of medium

1588 Creates a special commission (ala the task force) but it must have town representation, 40B impacted town representation, etc. it called for a 12-05 report to the legislature but it never moved

1589 ZBA decisions cannot be vacated

1590 Gives 10% of the development value in tax credits if the developer doesn’t use sections 20 through 23

1591 40B must have 35% affordable

1593 Any housing owned or occupied by an 80% or less of median income counts for the 10%


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