• Submitted by:

    Neil Gordon; Richard Benka; John Doggett; Jane Gilman; Nancy Heller; Jonathan Margolis; Linda Olson Pehlke; Marty Rosenthal

  • Title:

    Resolution requesting the Select Board and the Town’s legislative delegation to initiate or continue efforts to modify Department of Housing and Community Development guidelines promulgated pursuant to the MBTA Communities Act, requesting the Moderator to appoint a committee on compliance with the Act and requesting the Select Board to direct the Planning Department to staff the committee

  • Brief Summary:

    To see if the Town will adopt the following Resolution:

    WHEREAS the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
    (“DHCD”) has enacted guidelines that impose a December 31, 2023, compliance deadline
    for MBTA “Rapid Transit” communities such as Brookline to present zoning plans
    complying with the so-called “MBTA Communities Act” (“MBTA-CA”), G.L. ch. 40A, §
    3A, as determined by application of a DHCD “Compliance Model; and

    WHEREAS Brookline’s Planning and Community Development Department (“Planning
    Department”) has developed a single strategy that would involve substantial rezoning of a
    48-acre district centered on the Harvard Street corridor as well as neighboring streets, but
    other options should be considered; and

    WHEREAS while it has been repeatedly claimed that there is no “up-zoning”
    contemplated, the Harvard Street strategy, in order to comply with DHCD guidelines,
    assumes the elimination of all parking requirements for new developments along Harvard
    Street, the elimination of any requirement for commercial or other publicly accessible
    space (e.g., retail, restaurant, personal services, professional services) even on the first
    floor, the elimination of floor area ratio restrictions on density, and a 48-foot height limit
    rather than the existing staggered building height limits; and

    WHEREAS all of these factors contribute to significant increases in permissible density
    from redevelopment that could seriously threaten existing businesses, commercial vitality
    and existing moderately priced housing; disrupt neighborhoods; and ignore the need for
    open space and the critical need to increase our tree canopy; and

    WHEREAS the Harvard Street strategy is focused solely on pursuing MBTA-CA
    compliance with the single 48-acre zoning district (which could, in fact, have to expand
    even further into neighboring streets), although the DHCD guidelines do not require a
    single area; and

    WHEREAS the number of actual, existing multi-family (3-plus) units in Brookline already
    far exceeds the MBTA-CA “capacity” requirements, a fact not recognized by the DHCD
    guidelines; and

    WHEREAS unlike the Harvard Street strategy, utilizing multiple areas in Town to comply
    with the MBTA-CA, including existing three-family and other multi-family districts or
    portions of other corridors, would not require the Town to impose potentially negative
    changes on the Harvard Street corridor and would not concentrate the potential for
    additional multi-family housing and the potential impacts on school population on only
    three elementary schools (Ridley, Lawrence and Pierce); and

    WHEREAS recent successful rezoning efforts have been guided by resident committees
    with staff and consultant support, where the committees reflect appropriate technical skills along with representation from affected constituencies, to increase the credibility of their
    recommendations and the likelihood of acceptance by Town Meeting; and

    WHEREAS the Harvard Street strategy and the chosen process raise significant concerns
    that could well result in the defeat of that strategy at the November 2023 Town Meeting
    and it would be imprudent for the Town to “put all its eggs in one basket” without having
    the option of fully considering other options for complying with the MBTA-CA; and

    WHEREAS it is prudent to establish a resident-guided process that will, to the extent
    possible, ensure the development of alternative strategies for MBTA-CA compliance that
    could be utilized by themselves or in conjunction with a modified form of the Harvard
    Street strategy, and that will involve public engagement and analysis of potential impacts
    of not only the Harvard Street strategy but also alternative strategies;

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Town Meeting

    • A. Requests the Select Board and the Town’s legislative delegation to initiate or continue
      efforts to seek appropriate modifications to the DHCD deadline and guidelines; and
    • B. Requests the Moderator to appoint a committee to identify additional potential options
      for complying with the MBTA Communities Act; and further,
    • C. Requests the Select Board to direct the Planning Department to provide staff support to
      said Moderator’s Committee in analyzing both the Harvard Street strategy’s potential
      impacts, including impacts on Town and School services and risks to existing businesses,
      and other potential options for MBTA‐CA compliance, including without limitation
      applying the DHCD Compliance Model and developing appropriate site plan review

    Or act on anything relative thereto.