Town Meeting voters approved Article 34 Tuesday night. Image via Minuteman Media Network

Town Meeting approves multi-family zoning districts

May 1, 2024

By Betsy Levinson —

Town Meeting resoundingly approved Article 34, paving the way for multi-family housing options in five so-called sub-districts in Concord Center and West Concord.

The article brings the town into compliance with the state’s 2021 MBTA Communities Act, which permits building at a density of 15 units per acre in the new overlay districts.

The new overlay zoning districts are more or less within a half-mile from a transit station, as stated in the MBTA Communities Act.

The three districts in Concord Center are on Lowell Road, Keyes Road and Thoreau Street, and in West Concord, overlay districts will be allowed on Elm Street and Baker Avenue.

“Housing is a problem in Massachusetts,” said Linda Miller, chair of the Planning Board, at Tuesday night’s session at the high school. “The MBTA Communities Act was passed to ease the housing shortage.”

Image via Minuteman Media Network

The new districts unlock 50 acres in the five zones for up to 1,094 multi-family units with no age restriction.

Miller outlined how creating the new districts supports the town’s goals for affordable housing. 

Speakers on the floor of Town Meeting who serve on the housing groups supported the article unanimously, and the article was also supported by the Select Board and the Economic Vitality Commission.

A slide from Tuesday night’s Town Meeting session. Image via Minuteman Media Network

Prison possibilities?

Select Board Clerk Mary Hartman noted that compliance with the MBTA Communities Act will open up significant grant funds to the town and contribute to goodwill between the town and the state when it comes to development of the MCI-Concord property.

“It is in our best interest to maintain a good relationship with the state,” she said.

Compliance must be certified by the end of the calendar year. 

“This is consistent with our community values,” said Hartman. “It will reduce the reliance on automobiles,” among other points. 

She said development under the new law will not “impinge on” open space, historical sites, or agricultural land. 

“They will remain undisturbed,” she said.