Letter: Concord’s reckoning with the MBTA Communities Act

August 17, 2023

Concord is a very special community. Its natural beauty and historic character have been preserved by many years of careful planning, investment and community engagement. Unfortunately, our hard work is now threatened by the state-mandated MBTA Communities Act. This law requires 185 cities and towns, including Concord, to establish new zoning overlay districts near commuter rail stations which allows for “as of right” multi-family dwellings with a gross density of 15 units per acre. Concord would require 1,094 such units with perhaps 3,000 more people.

Proponents of the act argue this will contribute to our affordable housing and diversity goals. However, the MBTA Communities Act addresses neither of these. Instead, it restricts affordable housing in proposed developments to 10% and much of the new housing it produces will not count toward our existing affordable targets.

For more than a decade, Town Meeting has passed articles designed to preserve our smaller housing stock, such as a 1,400+ square foot ranch or cape. This new act will do the EXACT opposite. Those more modest-scale homes in our town centers will disappear and be replaced by larger, taller and denser condos or apartments. Also, our historic district is NOT excluded.

Ultimately, the MBTA Communities Act is a state-ordained density plan. We believe Concord should remain in control of its zoning. Increasing diversity of Concord housing stock is a good goal, but details matter, as we saw recently when Town Meeting voted down the proposed Thoreau Depot district density zoning changes.

We urge Concordians to get involved NOW to mitigate the consequences and irreversible damage of this act. Attend community sessions, ask questions and raise your concerns. Please reach out to us at info@concordmassgop.com if you’d like to get involved.

Lawrence Franko

Silver Hill RoadRepresenting the Concord Republican Town Committee