Marlborough gets grant to help with Housing Choice

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Marlborough gets grant to help with Housing Choice
Marlborough is taking a step forward with complying with the MBTA Housing Choice Program. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

MARLBOROUGH – The city is taking a big step toward compliance with the MBTA’s Housing Choice Initiative.

In a letter to the City Council dated Nov. 17, Mayor Arthur Vigeant announced that the city will receive a $42,300 grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development and Massachusetts Development Finance Agency (MassDevelopment).

“This grant funding is part of the FY23 One Stop for Growth Housing Choice Program, a statewide mandate to prioritize housing development,” said Vigeant in the letter. 

Signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2021, the Housing Choice Initiative is intended to alleviate the housing shortage in the state, especially when it comes to multifamily units.

All communities served by the MBTA must zone to allow for multifamily housing as of right, with a greater obligation for communities with better access to transit stations.

The MBTA lists Marlborough as an “adjacent community.” The city has no direct T service, and its nearest connection is the commuter rail station in Southborough.

According to the current MBTA guidelines, Marlborough has 17,547 housing units as of 2020, and it would be required to have a minimum of 1,755 additional multifamily units under the housing choice program.

These additional units may be built on land set aside for the program. Adjacent communities – like Marlborough – are required to have a minimum of 50 acres.

Vigeant said the grant funds will be used for technical assistance to draft and amend bylaws and zoning ordinances as well drawing boundaries for the district, analyzing build out, conducting community outreach, assisting in a review of the city’s preliminary compliance and implementation. 

The City Council approved the grant during its Nov. 21 meeting.

In the city’s application for the grant in June, Vigeant cited several recent housing plans, including the adoption of the Executive Residential Overlay District in the area around Simarano Drive and Cedar Hill Street to allow for new multifamily residential uses. 

“We are now preparing to adopt zoning to comply with the MBTA Communities mandate, but we require additional resources to support this objective,” he said.

The city, as with other adjacent communities, has until Dec. 31, 2024, to submit a compliance application with the MBTA.

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