MBTA Communities Law information:

Helpful Links:


  • LawSection 18 of chapter 358 of the Acts of 2020 added a new section 3A to chapter 40A of the General Laws (the Zoning Act) applicable to MBTA communities (MBTA Communities law).

  • PurposeTo encourage MBTA communities to adopt zoning districts where multi-family zoning is permitted as of right.

  • Requirementsan 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; not more than a ½ mile from a commuter rail station, subway station, ferry terminal or bus station, if applicable.

    • Foxborough is now classified as a “Commuter Rail Community,” since we have an established MBTA transit station within its border (effective November 3, 2023).

    • Foxborough requirement based on draft guidelines:

MBTA Community Type

2020 Housing Units (Census PL-94)

Minimum multifamily district unit capacity requirement

Commuter Rail Community



  • Foxborough is not mandated to build this many units, only to create zoning districts that allow for them.

Current Update on Development of Zoning:

In the fall of 2023, the Town planning staff, in collaboration with Board of Appeals chair Barney Ovrut, worked with a consultant from JM Goldson, funded by Mass Housing Partnership, to develop a plan that would enable Foxborough to meet the requirements of the law. The consultant employed a compliance model provided by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), now known as the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC), to ensure that the contemplated districts aligned with legal requirements. For access to the compliance model and all related documents submitted throughout this process, please visit this Dropbox link.

During a collaborative meeting of the Select Board and the Planning on November 30, 2023, Paige Duncan, Acting Town Manager and Director of Land Use and Economic Development, introduced a draft of proposed zoning changes aimed at meeting the requirements of the MBTA Communities law. Ms. Duncan, in conjunction with Mr. Ovrut, discussed the possibility of establishing a "Foxborough Multifamily Overlay District" zoning bylaw, and also shared a map outlining the suggested location of the overlay district. These documents are available below:

The conversation regarding the proposed zoning changes will continue during the Planning Board's meeting on January 4, 2024, with further discussions expected in February. Public input will be actively sought during these public meetings. Legally required public hearings on the proposed articles are anticipated to take place between February and April. The zoning changes necessary for legal compliance with the MBTA law will be voted at the Annual Town Meeting scheduled for May 13, 2024.

Effect of Non-Compliance:

Towns that do not comply with the new requirements will be ineligible for the following state funding programs (subject to change).

  • MassWorks

  • The Housing Choice Initiative

  • Local Capital Projects Fund

  • Community Planning Grants, EOHLC,

  • Massachusetts Downtown Initiative, EOED,

  • Urban Agenda, EOED,

  • Rural and Small-Town Development Fund, EOED,

  • Brownfields Redevelopment Fund, MassDevelopment,

  • Site Readiness Program, MassDevelopment,

  • Underutilized Properties Program, MassDevelopment,

  • Collaborative Workspace Program, MassDevelopment,

  • Real Estate Services Technical Assistance, MassDevelopment,

  • Commonwealth Places Programs, MassDevelopment,

  • Land Use Planning Grants, EOEEA,

  • Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) Grants, EOEEA, and

  • Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Planning and Project Grants, EOEEA.

Further, the Office of Attorney General has stated: “communities that fail to comply with the Law may be subject to civil enforcement action” and “MBTA Communities cannot avoid their obligations under the Law merely by foregoing state funding; the Law requires that MBTA Communities “shall have” a compliant zoning district and does not provide any mechanism by which a town or city may opt out of this requirement”.

MBTA Communities that fail to comply with the Law’s requirements risk liability under federal and state fair housing laws.

Required Process:

  • Present draft guidelines to Select Board, complete and submit the MBTA Community Information Form, and submit updated GIS parcels, if necessary, by May 2, 2022 (COMPLETED)

  • Submit a determination of full compliance or proposed action plan by July 1, 2023 (COMPLETED)

  • Adopt multi-family zoning district by December 31, 2024 (IN PROCESS)

  • Submit a determination of compliance to DHCD within 90 days of adoption of zoning.

Information Previously Shared:

Action Plan (January 2023):

On January 31, 2023, Foxborough filed an Action Plan with DHCD to obtain interim compliance with the MBTA Communities Requirements.  Due to the ongoing Pilot Program for Commuter Rail Service to Foxboro Station the town does not plan on bringing forward proposals on Zoning Districts to meet the MBTA Communities Requirement until 2024.  The Pilot Program is scheduled to terminate in August 2023.  If Commuter Rail service continues beyond this date, then there is a chance Foxborough will move from an Adjacent Community Classification to a Commuter Rail Community Classification, which would influence where the district needs to be located.  Please see the full Action Plan along with Possible Locations.  These locations have not been vetted but rather were done as an exercise to obtain information on district sizes.  More community input will be sought before any district proposals are brought forward.

 Timeline (Issued in March 2023):

The public comment period to solicit feedback on the draft guidelines is open until March 31st, 2022. 

An MBTA Community must take the following actions by 5 p.m. on May 2, 2022:

  • Include a presentation of the Draft Guidelines in a meeting of the Select Board;

  • Complete and submit the MBTA Community Information Form

  • Submit updated GIS parcel maps to MassGIS if the most recent updated parcel maps were submitted prior to January 1, 2020. DHCD will contact each of the 14 MBTA communities that need to submit updated GIS parcel maps.

By December 31, 2022, a community must either:

  • Submit a request for a determination of full compliance; or

  • Notify DHCD that there is no existing/compliant multifamily zoning district and submit a proposed action plan by certain deadlines, below.


For an adjacent community: 

  • Effective November 3, 2023, Foxborough is classified as a Commuter Rail Community

  • Action plan approval deadline: July 1, 2023

  • Multifamily zoning district adoption deadline: December 31, 2024

  • A community must submit a request for determination of compliance to DHCD within 90 days of adopting the zoning amendment.