Enriching Accessibility and Sustainability for Massachusetts Communities

Transit-oriented development (TOD) seeks to center accessible and sustainable mobility options in the planning and design of a community. Using nodes of public transportation networks as a starting point for community planning encourages dense, mixed-use development that is pedestrian friendly as well as more equitable and accessible. New multi-family zoning requirements for cities and towns serviced by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) promote adoption of many of the principals of TOD such as greater density. As municipalities begin planning new zoning ordinances and bylaws, how can they ensure they comply with new requirements and maximize the affordability, equity, and sustainability benefits possible through TOD?

Over the Fall of 2023, a class led by DUSP’s Jeff Levine and David Gamble has worked with the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA, to provide actionable recommendations that could help shape deliberations on MBTA compliance and maximize potential benefits for the communities. “The MBTA Communities Act requires that communities with MBTA service allow for multifamily development without significant restrictions. But it gives communities the ability to plan where that growth should occur and some flexibility on what it might look like. This practicum is oriented to providing the community with ideas and information to help inform those important planning decisions,” said instructor Jeff Levine about the class.

Class participants include: Agustina Rodriguez Biasone, Ana Letelier, Annabel Consilvio, Claire Gorman, Elisha Zhao, Emily Fang, Emma Heneine, Hazel O'Neil, McKenzie Humann, Melissa Hill, Nineveh O'Connell,  Nolen Scruggs, Pancho Mackin-Plankey, Sanne Wright, Seamus Joyce-Johnson, Sung Oh, Victoria Daniela Santiago Araiza, and Yunhan Zheng. 

Learn more at the Manchester-by-the-Sea MBTA Communities Act page and the students’ presentation to the Town’s MBTA Communities Act Task Force on October 26th, 2023.

Read Stephen Hagan’s coverage in the Gloucester Times.