MBTA Communities

MBTA Communities Law


In January 2021 a new section 3A was added to the Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40 A by the DHLC (Department of Housing and Community Development) now EOHLC (Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities). This new section applies to all municipalities (except Boston) whom receive or are adjacent to communities receiving MBTA services.  

This new law has been stablished with the objective to address Massachusetts’ housing shortage. According to the Commonwealth, Massachusetts is among of one of “the highest, and fast growing, home process and rents of any state in the nation”. This has led to require all MBTA Communities to change zoning regulations around their MBTA stations to allow multifamily housing by-right. 

This new law requires each community to have at least one zoning district that meets the following criteria: 

  • Minimum gross density of 15 units per acre
  • Located not more than 0.5 miles from a commuter rail station, subway station, or ferry terminal, if applicable
  • No age restrictions and suitable for families with children

To learn more about section 3A please visit this website.


Ashland is considered a “Commuter Rail” and based on these final guidelines stablished on August, 2022 by the Executive Office of Housing Economic Development (EOHED) these are its requirements:

Ashland Compliance Requirements

* Minimum Multifamily Unit Capacity

** Minimum Land Area

*** Developable

Station Area

**** Percent of district to be located in station area





  • Minimum multi-family unit capacity for Ashland is calculated based on the 2020 housing stock and the applicable percentage for that municipality's community type.*
  • Minimum land area is 50 acres for all communities in the rapid transit, commuter rail and adjacent community types.**
  • Developable station area is derived by taking the area of a half-mile circle around an MBTA commuter rail station, rapid transit station, or ferry terminal and removing any areas comprised of excluded land.***
  • In all cases, at least half of the multi-family zoning district land areas must comprise contiguous lots of land.****




Relevant Information



Planning Board Meetings – MBTA Discussion