What is a 40B project?

A project categorized as a “40B” refers to Chapter 40B of the Massachusetts General Laws, a state statute which enables local Zoning Boards of Appeals to approve affordable housing developments under flexible rules if at least 20-25% of the units have long-term affordability restrictions. These projects are also known as Comprehensive Permits. 

Chapter 40B was enacted in 1969 to help address the shortage of affordable housing statewide by reducing unnecessary barriers created by local approval processes, local zoning, and other restrictions. The goal of Chapter 40B is to encourage the production of affordable housing in all cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. The standard is for communities to provide a minimum of 10% of their housing inventory as affordable.  Communities that have NOT met the 10% requirement are subject to 40B proposals which can waive local zoning requirements and apply more flexible zoning standards than non-40B projects.   

To qualify for Chapter 40B, a development proposal must first be approved under a state or federal housing program, such as MassHousing, MassDevelopment, the Department of Housing and Community Development, or the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. At least 25% of the units must be affordable to lower income households who earn no more than 80% of the area median income (Alternatively, for rental housing, the project can provide 20% of the units to households below 50% of median income.)

For more info on 40B projects in Brookline, visit our Chapter 40B page

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1. What is zoning and why does my project require zoning relief?
2. What is a pre-existing non-conforming use?
3. What is an “as-of-right” project?
4. Why do I need zoning relief if my structure is non-conforming?
5. What are special permits and variances and what is the process?
6. What is the difference between the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals?
7. How long does a special permit or variance process take?
8. How can I find out what zoning district my home or property is located in?
9. What is Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and how do I calculate it?
10. Do my plans need to be drawn by a registered architect?
11. Do I need an attorney to file an application with a Board or Commission?
12. I would like to put a shed/detached garage/AC condenser/generator on my property. Is this allowed?
13. I would like to add an in-law suite or accessory apartment to my home. Can I do this?
14. What are the regulations pertaining to signage for my business?
15. My neighbor is proposing a project that I am concerned about. What can I do?
16. How do I learn about Major Impact projects and Design Advisory Teams?
17. What is a 40B project?
18. Where can I review past meeting minutes?
19. Where can I read zoning decisions on recent zoning cases?
20. The ZBA voted to approve my application. Now what?
21. There is construction taking place near me that is disruptive/causing a nuisance/does not seem to be following the plans/does not seem to have a work permit/etc. What can I do?
22. Can I subdivide my lot? What is an ANR plan?
23. How can I propose a zoning amendment?
24. How do I learn about Town Meeting zoning amendments?