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Massachusetts attorney general sues Milton for rejecting MBTA zoning law: "Compliance with it is mandatory"

Milton sued by state over MBTA Communities law
Milton sued by state over MBTA Communities law 00:51

MILTON - Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell is suing Milton for failing to comply with the MBTA Communities law that requires cities and towns to zone for more apartments and condos.

Milton voters decided on Feb. 14 to reject the plan to build more housing, despite threats from the state to pull "significant grant funding." Last week, Gov. Maura Healey's administration told Milton it was no longer eligible for a $140,000 seawall improvement grant as a result of the town's noncompliance. 

Campbell's lawsuit asks the court to order Milton to comply with the law.

"The housing affordability crisis affects all of us: families who face impossible choices between food on the table or a roof over their heads, young people who want to live here but are driven away by the cost, and a growing workforce we cannot house." Campbell said in a statement. "The MBTA Communities Law was enacted to address our region-wide need for housing, and compliance with it is mandatory." 

Milton town leaders will address the lawsuit Tuesday night.

"We are reviewing the complaint filed by the Attorney General and we look forward to defending the Town," town administrator Nicholas Milano told WBZ-TV in a statement. "The Milton Select Board is meeting tonight to discuss the complaint and the Town's next steps."

Campbell said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon that she's hoping Milton will "do the right thing."

"This is not about a fight ... this is about working to address a housing crisis," she said.

What is the MBTA Communities Law?

Then-Gov. Charlie Baker signed the MBTA Communities Act into law in 2021 as part of an effort to address the housing affordability crisis in Massachusetts. It requires communities served by the T to have "at least one zoning district of reasonable size in which multi-family housing is permitted."

The zoning plan for Milton would have allowed for at least 2,461 new housing units in the town of 28,000.

Why did Milton reject the MBTA zoning plan?

Some opponents told WBZ-TV that Milton shouldn't have to abide by rules for a "rapid transit community" just because they are served by a trolley that runs through Mattapan and Milton. Others worried about the traffic impact of bringing more apartments and condos to an area that's primarily single-family homes.

"I think housing for more people is wonderful," longtime Milton resident Steven Carr said. "I think we should be able to make our own decisions about where people live and as a community - decide those things." 

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