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February 21, 2024

State pulls the plug on funding for Milton projects following Town’s rejection of MBTA zoning

A two story building Image | Courtesy of Google Maps Milton Town Hall

After its voters rejected a zoning plan that would put the town in compliance with the MBTA Communities Act and clear the way for more multifamily housing, Milton is now officially losing out on state funding, the Healey administration announced Wednesday morning. 

Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus wrote a letter to Milton Town Administrator Nicholas Milano, confirming that Milton is no longer eligible for a recent $140,800 seawall and access improvement grant, will be ineligible to receive MassWorks and HousingWorks grants, and will also be at a disadvantage when applying for other state funding.

"Milton's current non-compliant status means the town will begin losing out on significant grant funding from the state, effective immediately," Augustus wrote.

Milton Town Meeting in December approved a zoning plan that would have met requirements of the MBTA Communities Act, which requires dozens of communities near MBTA service to allow multifamily housing by right in some areas. But voters then rejected that proposal in a town-wide referendum last week, defying multiple warnings that doing so would put them at risk of losing state dollars.

Gov. Maura Healey and her deputies had been vocally pushing for Milton voters to uphold the plan, arguing that both the town and the state desperately need to build more housing to rein in sky-high prices pushing families out of the state. Opponents, however, contended that more development would negatively impact the town.

It's not clear how much in other grant funding Milton might forgo as a result of its zoning plan rejection, which could raise the stakes of debate in other communities as they think about housing development moving forward.

"The significance of the MBTA Communities Act cannot be overstated: This law presents a transformative opportunity for 177 communities served by the MBTA to come together to zone for multi-family housing near transit stations to help address the greatest challenge facing our state -- the high cost of housing," Augustus wrote.

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