MBTA Communities Overlay District Information 

Project Background

This new law requires that an MBTA community shall have at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right and meets other criteria set forth in the statute:

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

In 2020, Governor Baker signed into law a requirement that Cohasset, along with 174 other communities in eastern Massachusetts with access to MBTA service, create a district or districts were multifamily housing is allowed by right. Updated guidelines from the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (Formerly DHCD, now EOHLC) indicate that Cohasset is an "Commuter Rail" community, and 50% of the new zoning district(s) need to be within proximity of the Commuter Rail Station. More information from the state regarding this law can be found here.

On March 15, 2023, the Attorney General issued an advisory concerning enforcement of the law. By complying with this requirement, the Town will:

  • remain eligible for important state grants for infrastructure projects;
  • take part in a regional response to the region's housing crisis by encouraging development of smaller multifamily housing

Throughout 2023, the Town, supported by resident volunteers in the Zoning Bylaw Committee, has been leading a planning process with to determine the location and details of Cohasset's district(s). 

The deadline for Cohasset to comply with this law is December 2024. Our hope is to have the new overlay district accepted at Annual Town Meeting 2024.

Background Documents and Resources

Planning Process and Prior Meetings

 March 22, 2022 - Former Director of Planning and Zoning, Lauren Lind, presented an overview of the draft regulations to the Select Board, Town Manager Chris Senior, and members of the public. 


November 29th, 2022 - Former Director of Planning and Zoning, Lauren Lind, gave a presentation to the Select Board and members of the public, summarizing Affordable Housing, including Affordable Housing in Cohasset, and how that relates to the MBTA Community Guidelines. This presentation included three proposed sites for the overlay, for discussion purposes only. 


January 10th, 2023- Former Director of Planning and Zoning, Lauren Lind, provided a plan for Interim Compliance to the Select Board at the January 10th, 2023 meeting. Cohasset was able to achieve Interim Compliance by the end of January 2023 and remains in compliance until the December 31st, 2024 deadline for full compliance. 

November 8th, 2023- The Zoning Bylaw Committee (ZBC) has been working with a consultant, Utile, provided through technical assistance funding from Mass Housing Partnership (MHP). At the November 8th, 2023 ZBC meeting, Utile gave a presentation with draft overlay districts to ZBC members and members of the public.