No Forced Local Zoning from the State
THE ARGUMENT: Is the state right to now require cities and towns with MBTA stations to allow multifamily housing nearby? NO: Shawn C. Dooley – State Representative, Norfolk Republican Let’s be honest, this move is nothing more than a ploy by big developers to maximize profits and run roughshod over local zoning with little respect for the community. The argument that this is an essential step to help those in search of an affordable home is disingenuous at best. For the last several decades, developers have forced this narrative time and again under the guise of the affordable housing law, Chapter 40B, with scarce regard for anything but their bottom line. Since this path is often messy and expensive, those who are trying to “pave paradise” came up with this scheme to make a few extra dollars at the expense of silencing the voice of the citizenry. Why our state government wants to take away the rights of municipalities to govern themselves baffles me. This is not akin to historical zoning legislation where there was a need to prevent the tony suburbs from redlining. This move forces communities to change their zoning simply based
on the presence of a T station. Building an entire statewide mandate around a transit system that pre-pandemic was, at best, inefficient and now (with the rise of remote working) increasingly unused, proves this change is not needed. Doesn’t it make more sense to reimagine and redesign our state’s transit system as opposed to forcing a zoning change tied to this antiquated model? Let’s explore what will happen if this law goes into effect. Existing housing and retail surrounding T stations will begin to be knocked down and parking lots taken over as massive developments rise up, dominating our neighborhoods. Traffic will increase around these already congested areas, schools and other local services will see an unchecked increase in expenses, and a strain on a weakened infrastructure will only further exacerbate the situation. All without any input from the community as these developments will be allowed by right. Every community is different and every neighborhood has unique needs and character. Let us respect the fact that the people know what is needed and allow them to control their town’s destiny. One size certainly does not fit all.