SECTION 1. Chapter 40A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sections:-
(a) For purposes of this section, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the following words shall have the following meanings:
“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.
''Eligible locations'', (1) areas near transit stations, including rapid transit, commuter rail and bus and ferry terminals; (2) areas of concentrated development, including town and city centers, other existing commercial districts in cities and towns, and existing rural village centers; or (3) areas that by virtue of their infrastructure, transportation access, existing underutilized facilities, and/or location make highly suitable locations for residential multi-family housing.
“Gross density”, is 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'', shall mean an area of land with definite boundaries, used, or available for use, as the site of one or more buildings.
''Multi-family housing”,(i) A residential building with three or more dwelling units; or (ii) Two or more residential buildings on the same lot with more than one 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.
“The department”, Department of Housing and Community Development.
(b) Within three years of the effective date of this section, zoning ordinances and bylaws shall provide one or more districts 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:
1. Include multi-family housing without age restrictions, which is suitable for families with children;
2. accommodate a reasonable share of the regional need for multi-family housing;
3. a minimum gross density of eight units per acre in rural towns subject to any further limitations imposed by the state Wetlands Protection Act pursuant to section 40 of chapter 131 of the General Laws and Title 5 of the State Environmental Code pursuant to section 13 of chapter 21A of the General Laws. All other municipalities shall have a minimum gross density of fifteen units per acre.
4. be in eligible locations.
A city or town may elect to satisfy the requirement of subsection (b) of this section 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 bylaw are consistent with the department’s guidelines. If a city or town obtains a determination from the department 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.
(c) The department shall publish guidelines which may be used to determine if a city or town has satisfied the requirements established in subsection (b) of this section.
SECTION 2. Section 5 of Chapter 40A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the words “town meeting;” in line 82 the following;-
“provided, however, if a city or town has failed to meet the minimum requirements of subsection (b) of section 3A of Chapter 40A, any zoning ordinance or by-law that is consistent with the requirements of section 3A of chapter 40A 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 two branches, or by a vote of a simple majority of a town meeting;”
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