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Planning & Community Development

Planning & Community 
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Aug 11

Fossil Fuel Free Pilot, MBTA Communities, State Funding, Retirement!

Posted on August 11, 2022 at 8:28 PM by Kara Brewton

8/11/2022

Today Governor Baker signed an Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind, including provisions for the Town of Brookline and 9 other communities to pilot local bylaws regarding fossil fuel free construction. The Department of Energy Resources is authorized to set regulations as part of this pilot "demonstration project." Congratulations to our volunteers, Town Administrator, Boards & Commissions, planning and building staff - past and present, state legislature, and Governor for all being a part of this three year journey

Last night the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development published final guidelines for the Multi-Family Zoning Requirement for MBTA Communities. By December 31, 2023, Brookline is required to change our Zoning By-Law to permit multi-family units without a special permit across at least 41 acres of land near our MBTA stations. The zoning should have the capacity to permit 6,990 housing units. The rules are not focused on housing production and can includes areas that are already significantly developed. This fall, the state will be developing a compliance model to address how dimensional requirements such as parking and setbacks will be assumed to affect total housing unit capacity. These zoning changes will require significant decisions from our community. You may be interested in reviewing some of the analysis the Department of Planning & Community Development (DPCD) presented earlier this year, which includes identification of some zoning parameters that the community could choose to change to meet this state requirement.  DPCD will be developing a formal Community Engagement strategy with the Planning Board this fall; in the meantime, please invite me to your next neighborhood or organization's meeting. 

Last month the state awarded direct funding and tax credits to 16 communities, including Brookline.  Extremely rare for us, the state funded TWO affordable housing projects in the same funding round: 108 Centre Street and 32 Marion Street. Congratulations to our housing and regulatory staff for getting through all of the permitting and finance documents quickly and thoroughly so that these affordable housing developers could access this funding cycle in time.

This summer included a lot of new chapters for our Department. The new Community Preservation Committee started meeting and will be seeking community input over the next several months to create a Community Preservation Act Plan, which will help set priorities for future budget allocations. We welcomed two new employees, Madison Anthony in our Regulatory Division and Aaron Norris in our Economic Development & Long-Term Planning Division. Tina McCarthy, our previous Preservation Planner, is now working as our Preservation/Community Preservation Planner. Victor Panak moved from the Regulatory Division to our Economic Development & Long-Term Planning Division. And, Derick Yung, our Administrator for almost 37 years, will be retiring on September 15th! 

This fall we will be presenting the final Housing Production Plan to the Planning Board and Select Board for their approval. We will also be commencing three new committees: the Planning Process Study Committee, to help scope our Comprehensive Plan update and zoning rewrite; the Fisher Hill West Study Committee, to recommend uses for the newly purchased municipal property on the west side of Fisher Hill; and the Babcock Street Study Committee, to bring new housing units to the municipal parking lot on the corner of Babcock Street & John Street. 

Please stop by our tent on Babcock Street and say hello during the Town's Brookline Day event, September 18th, 11-3! 

Thank you,

Kara Brewton

Director of Planning & Community Development

[email protected]

617-730-2468