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What is Massachusetts Chapter 40B?

What is Massachusetts' Chapter 40B? Under Massachusetts' Comprehensive Permit Act, Chapter 40B was a section enacted in 1969 in order to address the shortage of affordable housing developments in the state.

While this may sound like a great provision, Chapter 40B has raised some questions and even complaints from residents in various communities around Massachusetts -- many of which are attempting to enforce changes, North Andover Patch reports.

What does the law mean, exactly? Also, what are these changes residents are pushing for? Here's a general overview:

40B in Plain English

Chapter 40B is meant to tackle the issue of affordable housing. It requires that 10% of any town's new units be affordable. Basically, what that means is that the new units must be priced at a number below the median home value or rental rate. The law also allows for local zoning ordinances to be bypassed if developers are looking to build units under 40B.

For example, a developer can build more densely than a municipal zoning bylaw would permit and have more units per acre if the unit meets the affordability restrictions under Chapter 40B.

Depending on whether or not your neighborhood hits the required 10%, new housing units may or may not be built near you under Chapter 40B to meet it.

Possible Changes Afoot

However, despite the ultimate goal of affordable housing that Chapter 40B is attempting to reach, many communities feel burdened by it.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor, with the help of state representatives, hopes to change parts of the law. More specifically, Maylor wants to change the fact that under 40B, units are not counted toward the total until they're actually occupied. This creates a kind of blindness to all vacant units and skews numbers. Without these changes, that 10% of 40B housing could very well be exceeded in many areas.

A hearing on this matter is set for later this month on October 22.

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