MBTA Zoning

Marblehead is one of the 177 communities in the Commonwealth that must comply with the MBTA Communities Zoning.  The law requires that MBTA Communities must zone for “at least one district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted as of right” at a minimum of 15 units per acre. 

The Planning Board is working on this project. There are many ways to change our zoning to reach compliance, and want to hear from the community about their priorities. The planning board will be holding a public visioning session, and stakeholder engagement to gain preliminary resident input to inform decision-making as we move into the technical specifics of proposing changes to our zoning districts. At the visioning session the town will be looking for input on what sizes and styles of multi-family housing are preferable and in what locations. We will have the ability as we craft our zoning to choose the locations, set dimensional controls (lot size, setbacks, lot coverage, etc.), provide design guidelines, parking requirements, and more. 

For more information please see the power point here. Additionally the town received assistance from the state on whether we comply and an analysis of the district that presently allows multifamily by special permit and  contains a model bylaw that the town may use as a starting point. The report is attached here.

The Planning Board held a remote public meeting on Thursday October 26, 2023. The presentation  included an overview and a summary of MBTA Zoning, zoning in general, Marblehead densities, types of multifamily housing, benefits and concerns and  a few areas that are being considered were presented and feedback from the participants contributed their ideas and concerns. You can view the power point here

Additional information

More information go to Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities general MBTA Communities page 

A five-part series in Commonwealth Magazine in 2022 gives the non-planner a good understanding of the MBTA Communities law and how it will impact local Massachusetts MBTA towns and cities:

November 3, 2023

The Planning Board held a second public meeting on the MBTA Communities Zoning on Thursday November 2, 2023. The presentation  included an overview and a summary of MBTA Community Zoning law and then a breakout session to get input from the participants on locations, the type of multifamily housing style to help inform the Planning Board as they develop a plan and also feedback from the participants on concerns and benefits. You can view the power point here 

Here is a link to some of the board from the breakout activity: