REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill Briefing: Land Use & Zoning Issues | The Wednesday Word

12802814_10154557034337506_7894024781621756710_nCALL FOR ACTION REMINDER – You should have received a Call for Action from MAR President Annie Blatz urging your State Senators to oppose S.2311. If you have yet to respond to this CFA, please do so immediately!

The 21st Annual REALTOR Day on Beacon Hill is just TWO weeks away! To help you prepare to attend REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, June 21, we continue with Wednesday Word blog posts that discuss the 2015-2016 Legislative Issues. This post gets into the details of the zoning bill that MAR opposes.

ISSUE: Massachusetts is currently dealing with a severe housing crisis due in large part to a low rate of housing production which has not kept pace with population growth and needs. Highlighted below are three examples of how S.2311 would negatively impact housing production in Massachusetts
S.2311 An Act promoting housing and sustainable development
Senator Wolf (D-Harwich)
Legislative Actions to Date:
Currently before the Senate. Debate scheduled for June 9, 2016.

Development Impact Fees
: This section would add a new Section 9E to the Zoning Act, which would establish statutory authority for municipalities to impose development impact fees for water, wastewater, stormwater management, solid waste, roads, and parks and recreation.

Why Realtors® Oppose Development Impact Fees: Development impact fees involve complex legal, planning, and economic principles that are not adequately addressed this legislation. Development impact fees increase the cost of new development, especially for residential projects, which will reduce the number of projects that are economically feasible. To the extent that the increased development costs are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, impact fees also make housing less affordable. In states that have authorized impact fees by statute, impact fees are the exclusive means for local governments to address capital facilities and services needs to serve growth in communities. By contrast, the proposed legislation would not prevent a municipality from imposing both development impact fees and other burdensome and costly mitigation requirements as a condition of development approval.

Inclusionary Zoning

Issue: Inclusionary zoning would authorize municipalities to impose mandatory inclusionary zoning requirements upon development projects, provided that “municipal affordable housing concessions” (e.g., density, floor area ratio, or building height bonuses) are provided for affected projects.

Why Realtors® Oppose Inclusionary Zoning: By expressly authorizing municipalities to impose mandatory inclusionary requirements, the legislation would unfairly burden developers with the substantial costs of fulfilling society’s obligation to ensure the availability of affordable housing. It would significantly impact the cost of development in these municipalities, and would necessarily increase the cost of market rate housing to the detriment of first-time homebuyers and others looking to move into or remain in the community, who do not qualify for subsidized housing. The burden to provide affordable housing options should either be shared more broadly, or provided on a voluntary basis in response to meaningful incentives consistent with a plan for the creation of such housing.

Minor Subdivisions

Issue: This would establish a “minor subdivision” process that would replace the approval not required (“ANR”) process in cities and towns that choose to adopt a minor subdivision ordinance or bylaw.

Why Realtors® Oppose a Minor Subdivision Process: This opt-in approach would result in a patchwork of subdivision controls across the Commonwealth in which some communities have an ANR process and others have a minor subdivision process. Eliminating the use of ANRs would be significant because land divisions that formerly would have qualified for ANR would now be subject to review in a minor subdivision process, or full subdivision review. This type of review would involve additional time, less certainty, and more burdensome conditions than the current ANR process. While the concept of a minor subdivision on an existing street may be a good one in the abstract, it should not come at the expense of the sole means of expeditious land division under ANR endorsement.

Please be sure to visit the MAR Government Affairs page and Day on the Hill Facebook event for additional information.

2016 MAR President Annie Blatz invites you to REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill, where REALTORS® will have a chance to network and learn about the key legislative issues that will affect the real estate industry and private property in 2016. Attend the REALTOR® Day on the Hill and make an impact on the legislative process.

REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill is scheduled for:
Tuesday, June 21st, 2016
10:00 to 11:00AM
Massachusetts State House, Great Hall

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Christine Howe, Public Policy and Finance Coordinator)