Scenic imagery

GA Blog

Showing blogs: 835835 of 835

8.23.07 Haverhill enacts Chapter 40R "Smart Growth" Zoning Overlay District

In February 2007, Haverhill received Commonwealth final approval to transform its old shoe shop industrial area of downtown into a Chapter 40R zoning overlay district. According to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, M.G.L. Chapter 40R, commonly known as “Smart Growth” encourages communities to create dense residential or mixed-use smart growth zoning districts, including a high percentage of affordable housing units, to be located near transit stations, in areas of concentrated development such as existing city and town centers, and in other highly suitable locations.

The specific area to be developed as Smart Growth are Wingate Street, lower Washington Street, Locke Street and Locust Street.

You can view the City of Haverhill’s Ordinance, here and here.

The rezoning makes it easier for developers to obtain permits to convert old buildings into new housing and new businesses, either as-of-right or through a limited plan review process akin to site plan review.
Upon state review and approval of a local overlay district, communities become eligible for payments from a Smart Growth Housing Trust Fund, as well as other financial incentives.

Haverhill’s passage of Chapter 40R earned it a mention in the Boston Business Journal.
Chapter 40R seeks to substantially increase the supply of housing and decrease its cost, by increasing the amount of land zoned for dense housing. It targets the shortfall in housing for low- and moderate-income households, by requiring the inclusion of affordable units in most private projects.

In a Chapter 40R zoning overlay district, investors can build mixed use projects − housing on the upper floors and retail on the first floor − provided they meet historic design standards.

Approval of Smart Group in Haverhill puts the city in line for a $600,000 one time bonus, and a bonus of $3,000 for each unit that is built in the area.

In order to alleviate the potential financial burden on cities and towns approving Smart Rezoning, the state legislature enacted Chapter 40S, which provides additional state funding, to cover the costs of educating any school-age children who move into such districts. This legislation was in response to the common concern that new housing was costly in terms of municipal finances, given the imbalance of tax revenues and service costs. Qualifying communities will be reimbursed for the net cost of educating students living in new housing in smart growth districts.

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® Quality of Life Program produced an excellent pamphlet that Summarized Smart Growth and Zoning in Massachusetts. You can go to their website and/or request additional pamphlets for your offices and clients at

You can also read more about Smart Growth on the National Association of Realtor®’s website at

contine reading button