Over the past 15 years, a number of environmental and planning groups have supported various versions of legislation that they claimed would improve zoning in Massachusetts. However, all of these bills have been strongly opposed by the real estate industry (i.e., those who actually construct, own, manage, broker, and finance every type of real estate imaginable, both residential and commercial). Some years the proponents claim that smart growth is the goal, other years housing is cited. However, there is unanimous agreement within the real estate industry that the zoning legislation would greatly hinder, not encourage, development of any kind – both commercial and residential.
NAIOP has been a lead organization in opposing these bills. In 2016, NAIOP testified in opposition to the bill at its legislative hearing before the Joint Committee on Municipalities & Regional Government. NAIOP also met with the Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee to express our concerns with the original draft of the bill. Following that meeting, the Senate President’s office convened three meetings where proponents and opponents of the legislation discussed the bill in great detail, as well as alternative language. A revised version of the bill was then reported out of Committee. While the revised bill did address many of the real estate industry’s concerns, it was still problematic for development. That version was then passed (with some amendments) by the Senate.
As part of NAIOP’s advocacy efforts, we met with countless senators (including co-sponsors of the bill) to educate them on the specific provisions included in the bill and the negative impact the language would have on development. As a result, several senators voted against the bill. The final vote was 23-15.
Recognizing the bill's serious flaws, the House did not take up the bill and no zoning legislation was passed during the 2015-2016 session. This issue is expected to return next session and NAIOP will continue to oppose efforts to eliminate the few protections in place for developers.
Text of Zoning Bill Passed (only) in Senate (June 2016)
Letter from Real Estate Industry in Response to Senate Redraft of Zoning Bill (June 2016)
Letter from Real Estate Industry in Opposition to S. 2144 (March 2016)