Zoning Throwback! taking you back to the 70s


Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) Social Media Campaign Takes Us Back to the 70s to Promote Zoning Reform

#ZoningThrowback Will Highlight Need to Update State’s Zoning Laws

Boston, Mass. – Starting today until the end of the legislative session on July 31, the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance (MSGA) will promote a social media campaign urging state legislators to pass a zoning reform package that will improve planning, update local zoning, reduce development battles, and create more housing in sensible locations.

The #ZoningThrowback campaign will highlight how the Commonwealth has changed in the years since the state last reformed its zoning laws in 1975. Supporters will be able to follow the campaign at Twitter and Facebook.

“While many of us can look back on the 1970s with fondness, there are things we should leave behind—and our zoning laws are one of them,” said André Leroux, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance.

“Watching Saturday morning cartoons and Creature Double Feature while eating Boo Berry cereal was a highlight of my youth,” continued Leroux. “But we’ve learned a lot since then about how to build more walkable, vibrant, and welcoming communities.”

Last week, MSGA and its allies called on legislators to add six elements to the Governor’s Housing Choice bill that would improve planning, reduce court battles over development, and encourage more neighborhood-scale housing.

These include:

  1. A state training program for local planning and zoning boards. Boards are staffed by volunteers who have to make important decisions that affect the community’s growth and development. They would benefit from professional support and resources to help them understand their role and make better decisions.

  2. Alternative dispute resolution. A professional mediator could be employed to resolve conflicts among local officials, residents and developers to avoid expensive and time-consuming lawsuits.

  3. “Site plan review." Statewide rules will create a consistent, streamlined permitting process across the state while enabling the community to secure improvements to project design.

  4. Reduce frivolous appeals. Simple improvements to the way legal appeals for real estate projects are handled could reduce the amount of time spent in court and also allow a judge to require posting a bond if she believes that the case is without merit.

  5. Open Space Residential Design (OSRD). Statewide OSRD rules would encourage developers of residential subdivisions to cluster homes on less land and preserve open space.

  6. Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). This proposal would allow homeowners with at least 5,000 sq ft lots to create an in-law apartment in their single-family home.

“One thing that was great about the 70s is that we produced twice as much housing annually as we do today,” said Leroux.

Over the last seven years, only ten communities can claim credit for producing nearly two-thirds of all apartment construction in the state, and Boston alone has built 37 percent of them.

MSGA will release a new image every day until July 31st, which is the end of the legislative session at the State House. The #ZoningThrowback images can be found at twitter.com/MASmartGrowth and Facebook.com/MASmartGrowth. Information about the Great Neighborhoods campaign can be found at www.great-neighborhoods.org.

About the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance

The Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance promotes healthy and diverse communities, protects critical environmental resources and working landscapes, advocates for housing and transportation choices, and supports equitable community development and reinvestment.


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