Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
Summary: The Comprehensive Land Use Reform and Partnership Act (CLURPA) is the first major updating of the Commonwealth’s planning/zoning and subdivision control statutes in over 35 and 50 years, respectively. The CLURPA bill encourages communities to adopt or update their local master plans and provides them the tools necessary to implement effective land use regulations consistent with those plans. At the same time, it eliminates statutory impediments to the achievement of “smarter growth” in Massachusetts so that communities may better manage their growth and shape their futures.
Why This Matters: In Massachusetts, the responsibility for land use planning and the regulation of development largely belongs to local governments. However, the state laws which set the framework for this municipal control contain unclear or restrictive provisions that effectively deprive our cities and towns of planning authority.
These impediments make local planning difficult. The current planning, zoning and subdivision control statutes actually work to subvert local planning by laying down a minefield of exemptions, prohibitions and zoning freezes that stand in the way of plan implementation. The realization of local land use plans is so hindered by the state’s disabling statutory framework that no one is well-served – neither advocates for affordable housing nor those interested in environmental and resource protection.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill blends aspects of previous zoning reform legislative proposals, including the Community Planning Act (CPA) and Land Use Partnership Act (LUPA), with new material to create a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s land use laws.
The CLURPA bill:
- provides clearly written and better organized statutory language
- streamlines the local master planning process
- encourages consistency between local plans and land use regulations
- encourages regional and state interests in planning
- provides communities with new plan implementation tools (for example, impact fees, inclusionary zoning, form-based codes, and natural resource protection zoning)
- Allows communities to require affordable housing to be built through inclusionary zoning, to provide more options for building affordable housing.
- provides incentives to plan according to state sustainable development principles
- includes $11,000,000 in municipal and regional planning assistance
- closes loopholes and ends restrictions which undermine local planning (for example, “grandfathering” protections and Approval Not Required land divisions)
- fosters housing affordability and diversity, and environmental protection
- increases flexibility in zoning and permitting (for example, newly crafted variance and special permit language)
- improves and streamlines local regulatory procedures (time frames, site plan review)