When incentives aren't enough : challenges in Chapter 40R Massachusetts Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District Act implementation
Author(s)Robayna, Matthew S
Challenges in Chapter 40R Massachusetts Smart Growth Zoning Overlay District Act implementation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
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The Greater Boston area has some of the highest housing costs in the country, a trend which has only intensified through the nation's recovery from the recent global financial crisis. Greater Boston has a fragmented municipal system, with individual cities and towns controlling their own land use regulations. This fragmentation has led to a system where cities and towns regulate land use in an uncoordinated manner, leaving the entire region with a shortage of housing and raising housing costs. In 2004, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts enacted Chapter 40R, the Smart Growth Overly District Act, to incentivize communities to implement zoning districts that allow dense housing by right. To date, very few communities in Greater Boston have enacted Chapter 40R districts, and once those districts are enacted, very few of the newly-zoned units are built. This thesis seeks to explore the causes behind these phenomena. Communities in the region are loath to implement 40R districts because of an aversion to growth, in particular multifamily development. Misconceptions about program requirements may also prevent town planners from using 40R as a planning tool for their communities. Developers don't often utilize 40R as a permitting mechanism because it is riskier to implement than Chapter 40B permitting. Even when 40R districts are established, units are not always built because of market conditions or land availability. While 40R has produced successful developments across the state, this report calls into question whether an incentive-based development policy is sufficient to deal with the region's current housing shortage.
Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-61).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.