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Budget bill eases zoning restrictions to spur development

by Timothy Inklebarger

Budget bill eases zoning restrictions to spur development

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors is applauding a new economic development bill signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, which includes Housing Choice legislation supported by MAR.

The bill, among other things, allows municipal governments to make zoning changes with a simple majority vote versus a two-thirds majority.

“For years, anti-development policies have eroded our housing supply and increased costs. We are left with some of the oldest housing stock in the country and a housing affordability and availability crisis,” MAR’s legal team noted in a Jan. 15 blog post. “Housing Choice will help ease zoning restrictions on several smart-growth policies, providing desperately needed housing development opportunities in Massachusetts. Increasing development will result in more housing availability and reduced housing costs.”

MAR also successfully urged Baker to veto “Right of First Refusal” portion of the bill, which would allow tenants of a building to have the first option to purchase the property.

“It is entirely possible for tenants to agree to all of the terms required under the law and contract process, delay the sale at each step, and ultimately fail to obtain financing or otherwise decide not to close, causing an even greater delay,” MAR’s legal team told the Legislature in July.

MAR argued such requirements would “complicate and delay” the sale of the building and hindering the owner’s ability to sell the property and, thus, reducing its value.

“The enactment and veto of this problematic provision sets the state on track to address its housing crisis and bounce back faster from economic challenges caused by the pandemic,” the MAR legal team noted in the blog post.

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