Boston Suburb Pushes Back On Multifamily Housing Law

In the heart of an affluent Boston suburb, the debate rages over a law requiring a change to zoning and development regulations calling for more housing.

The battle is taking place in Milton, a prosperous bedroom town known for its restrictive single-family zoning laws and picturesque landscapes, the Boston Globe reported.

Residents have found themselves at the center of a tumultuous narrative, underscored by a recent town meeting focused on Milton’s obligation to make room for more multifamily housing. 

The looming presence of a T stop, a pivotal transportation lifeline, has provoked contentious discussions, with some even questioning the possibility of eliminating the T line to circumvent the requirements of the newly imposed state law. 

The prospect of increased housing density has instilled fear in the community, with concerns over the potential transformation of the town’s identity and landscape.

The escalating tension reflects the broader struggle faced by numerous Boston suburbs grappling with skyrocketing single-family home prices and a dire shortage of affordable housing options. 

For every three new jobs created in the Greater Boston area, just one new home is built, the Globe reported, an unsustainable rate that many believe will lead to dire short- and long-term economic and social consequences.

As it stands, the region has been rendered inhospitable to those with modest incomes and stunting the growth of a diverse and vibrant community.

The housing shortage, coupled with escalating prices, poses a direct threat to the area’s workforce, comprising the backbone of its thriving sectors, such as universities, hospitals, and the robust tech industry. This crisis jeopardizes the region’s ability to attract and retain essential talent, hindering the sustained growth and prosperity it has long enjoyed.

At the heart of the conflict lies a fundamental question of priorities: maintaining the exclusivity and tranquility of the existing neighborhoods versus embracing inclusivity and diversification. This philosophical dichotomy has split the community, pitting those who advocate for preserving the status quo against those pushing for a more open and inclusive approach to housing policies. The struggle between these two perspectives has become the focal point of the ongoing debate, revealing deep-rooted concerns about identity, community dynamics, and the essence of local governance.

The stakes have been further heightened by the state’s aggressive mandate, compelling communities to reassess their zoning regulations and facilitate the construction of more housing units. While the prospect of increased housing supply seems daunting to some, it is seen as an indispensable step in mitigating the pressing housing crisis and ensuring a sustainable and inclusive future for the region.

As the tension escalates and the community remains at a crossroads, the fate of Milton hangs in the balance. The impending Town Meeting, scheduled for December, is poised to shape the trajectory of the town and serve as a poignant reflection of the broader challenges confronting the Boston metropolitan region.

There appears to be some progress in the area. 

The Massachusetts Port Authority recently finalized plans for an unusual, if not unique, $170 million affordable housing project in Boston’s Seaport district, the city’s most affluent neighborhood. 

The 224,000-square-foot project calls for the construction of a 15-story tower with 200 apartments, all of which will be below-market rate, the Boston Globe reported.

The project is a joint venture between Boston-based housing developer The Community Builders and the Black-owned development firm Menkiti Group from Washington, D.C. 

— Ted Glanzer

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