(Arc.) MBTA-CA Multifamily Permitting Committee


  • Dick Benka (chair)
  • Rick Fredkin
  • Carol Gladstone
  • Ken Lewis
  • Linda Olson Pehlke
  • David Pollak
  • Katha Seidman
  • Neil Wishinsky

This Committee's last meeting was on August 25, 2023; all meetings, materials, and recordings are available at the Past Meetings page




The MBTA-CA Multifamily Permitting Committee (the Committee) will identify, develop, and analyze potential options for complying with the MBTA Communities Act, in parallel to the work already underway along Harvard Street, so that Town Meeting can be presented with credible and meaningful alternatives in considering how best to comply with that Act’s requirements. 

The Committee shall focus on developing potential options that could but need not include portions of the Harvard Street study area that: (i) seek to minimize adverse impact to commercial districts and existing businesses, (ii) include at least one option likely to incentivize the creation of additional housing units that are suitable for all stages of life and income levels, and (iii) take into consideration the location of additional housing relative to available capacity for open space, schools, and other public infrastructure.


The Committee, with the support of the Department of Planning and Community Development, will make recommendations to the Select Board on proposed solutions (which could but need not include portions of Harvard Street), including any site plan review standards that affect the theoretical housing yield, by July 14, 2023, or as soon thereafter as reasonably feasible. That will likely give enough time for the State to review potential options submitted by the Select Board over the summer. Following this process, the Committee will assist staff in drafting warrant articles and related materials, including site plan review standards in time for Fall 2023 Town Meeting (estimating August 31st warrant article deadline). Committee meetings will be held remotely via zoom.

Prior to making recommendations to the Select Board, the Committee shall:  

  • Notify property owners and tenants (including commercial tenants) of at least one public hearing of any proposed zoning changes; 
  • Develop two or more solutions for MBTA Communities Act compliance, with a goal of at least one solution that would likely incentivize at least 699 net new housing units constructed (10% of the theoretical housing capacity required by the State) – which could but need not include solutions being developed on Harvard Street, or be entirely separate from Harvard Street;
  • Evaluate the possibility of compliance through the use of, but not necessarily limited to, existing T (two-family) zones and M (multi-family) zones; and
  • Consider and resolve to the extent feasible any unintended consequences updated zoning may have, including impacts of the MBTA-CA parking model, negative impacts on existing businesses, climate resiliency, potential demolition of existing housing stock or loss of character-defining features of the Town.