SECTION 1. Said chapter 40A is hereby further amended by inserting after section 3 the following sections:-
(a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
“As of right”, development may proceed under a zoning ordinance or by-law without the need for a special permit, variance, zoning amendment, waiver, or other discretionary zoning approval.
“Department”, the department of housing and community development.
“Eligible locations”, as defined in section 2 of chapter 40R.
“Gross density”, a units-per-acre density measurement that includes in the calculation land occupied by public rights-of-way, recreational, civic, commercial and other non-residential uses.
“Lot”, an area of land with definite boundaries that are used or available for use as the site of a building.
“Multi-family housing”, a building with 3 or more residential dwelling units or 2 or more buildings on the same lot with more than 1 residential dwelling unit in each building.
“Rural town”, a municipality with a population density of less than 500 persons per square mile as determined by the most recent decennial federal census.
(b) Within 3 years of the effective date of this section, zoning ordinances and by-laws shall provide at least 1 district in which multi-family housing is a permitted use as of right. For the purposes of this section, districts shall satisfy the following minimum requirements: (i) include multi-family housing without age restrictions which is suitable for families with children; (ii) a minimum gross density of 8 units per acre in rural towns subject to any further limitations imposed by section 40 of chapter 131 and title 5 of the state environmental code established by section 13 of chapter 21A. All other municipalities shall have a minimum gross density of 15 units per acre; provided, however, that multi-family housing districts shall align to the extent possible with existing or planned water, sewer and transportation infrastructure; (iii) be in eligible locations; and (iv) accommodate a reasonable share of the regional need for multi-family housing.
A city or town may satisfy the requirement of this subsection by obtaining a determination from the department, acting directly or through a regional planning agency as its designee, that the multi-family provisions of its zoning ordinance or by-law are consistent with the department’s guidelines established pursuant to subsection (c). If a city or town obtains a determination from the department or regional planning agency under this section, the city or town may use the determination as verification of compliance when applying for discretionary funding by state agency programs that have included a preference or priority for multi-family zoning pursuant to this section.
The department may waive or modify the requirements of this subsection for municipalities if a determination is made that no eligible locations exist within a municipality.
(c) The department shall publish guidelines which shall be used to determine if a city or town has satisfied the requirements established in subsection (b) of this section.
(2) If a zoning ordinance or by-law fails to comply with this section, the superior court or the land court may award appropriate declaratory and injunctive relief in a civil action brought by the attorney general on behalf of the department or by an aggrieved applicant for a local permit.
SECTION 2. Said section 5 of said chapter 40A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the word “meeting” in line 82, the following words:- “; provided, however, that if a city or town has failed to meet the minimum requirements of section 3A, a zoning ordinance or by-law that is consistent with these requirements shall be adopted by a vote of a simple majority of all members of the town council or of the city council where there is a commission form of government or a single branch or of each branch where there are 2 branches or by a vote of a simple majority of town meeting”.
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