State officials released data Thursday showing that, of the 175 towns and cities covered by the state’s landmark transit-oriented rezoning requirement, all but seven have met the law’s the first major requirement: submitting a plan that shows how they plan to comply with the law.

Of the 168 plans submitted, 46 have so far been reviewed and approved by DHCD. The state intends to post each community’s plan online at

Only Berkley, Carver, Holden, Marshfield, Middleborough, Raynham and Seekonk did not file action plans by the Jan. 31 deadline, a spokesperson for the state Department of Housing and Community Development said. The department plans to “follow up” with these towns to “assist with any submission issues or hurdles.” The towns represent around 2 percent of the total number of units that could be legalized or permitted under the MBTA Communities law.

“It’s overwhelmingly positive. It’s an indication that communities take this law seriously,” said Clark Ziegler, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, the quasi-state entity tasked with helping municipalities plan out how they will comply with the law.

Between MHP’s own resources and other state grant programs, around $2.5 million has already been delivered to towns and cities to help sort out these rezonings, Ziegler said, and over 100 communities are receiving technical assistance for their planning efforts.

“Communities are off and running,” he said.

But meeting the action plan deadline was also an easy lift for many communities. The form for submitting plans only asked local officials to describe zoning strategies under consideration, types of changes, like parking requirements or zoning district boundaries, that the town might have to change in order to comply and offer a timeline for rezoning and fill out short-response sections describing work to date.

That a town met the plan deadline may also not be a perfect gauge of whether a town will ultimately adopt a new, transit-oriented zoning district by the next set of deadlines – Dec. 31 for subway-served communities like Newton, Milton and Cambridge, Dec. 24,2024 for towns and cities with commuter rail service and neighboring communities – said Jesse Kanson-Benanav, executive director of advocacy group Abundant Housing MA.

“[N]o matter how much the town planners or officials are willing to comply by submitting these action plans, the reality is that there remain some very significant political headwinds in many towns and the passage of compliant zoning is very much dependent on what city councilors or (perhaps worse) Town Meeting members decided to do,” he said in an email.

Ziegler acknowledged the challenge, but held out hope that this week’s results indicated changes were coming, saying that the process of rezoning is spurring larger conversations in some communities about boosting housing production.

“I hope the sense out there is that this is really achievable. At the end of the day it’s pretty much indisputable that we need more housing. And if we need more housing it’s also clear that building more housing near transit is a good and sensible policy,” he said.

Nearly All Have Complied with MBTA Zoning – So Far

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min