Arguing that Massachusetts needs to create smaller house lots that will enable builders to produce more attainable single-family homes, HBRAMA Government Affairs Chair Rob Brennan and HBRAMA Vice President Susan Kadilak testified recently before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government in support of House Bill No. 3895, An Act relative to allowing redivision of merger lots in municipalities adopting net zero code.
Sponsored by Rep. Christopher Flanagan (D-Dennis), this bill would amend the Zoning Act (G.L. c. 40A, § 6) to provide that adjacent lots under common ownership in a municipality that has accepted the provisions of the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code shall not be considered merged and treated as a single lot, for local zoning purposes, thereby bringing the lots into compliance with lot area zoning requirements of the municipality. Such lots could then be developed as two or more smaller lots on which single-family homes could be developed.
The barriers to building affordable and attainable single-family homes in the Commonwealth are many, but the greatest is the cost of land. And communities that require a minimum lot area of an acre or more are the major reason house lots are so expensive. Given that the MIT Center for Real Estate and Wentworth Institute of Technology study concluded that, without additional incentives or financial supports, the Municipal Opt-in Specialized Stretch Energy Code will likely push homeownership out of reach for many more families in Massachusetts it is imperative that something be done.
House Bill No. 3895 can help mitigate the added cost of building new single-family homes in cities and towns that adopt these more stringent building requirements by dividing these merged large lots back to their original and legally buildable size. Such lots and the homes constructed upon them will also be in most cases consistent with the historic character of their neighborhoods.
At the hearing at the State House, several members of the committee expressed support for the bill. Rob Brennan and Susan Kadilak’s testimony can be viewed by going to the following website: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/4735. Their testimony begins at the 1:08:20 mark.
Passage of this important legislation into law is a priority of the HBRAMA.
A copy of H. 3895 can be found here.