Littleton Station Village - MBTA Communities
Thank you for the robust input and feedback on Town Meeting floor. Planning Board will be exploring a new zoning bylaw amendment to bring Littleton toward compliance with the MBTA Communities requirements with a Board discussion scheduled at the November 16, 2023 meeting.
Planning Board Public Hearing -
The Planning Board opened a public hearing on Thursday, October 12, 2023, which will continue on October 26, 2023 at 6:15 p.m. in Room 103 of the Shattuck Street Town Offices on the proposed MBTA Communities Zoning Bylaw - Article 19 of the November 1, 2023 Special Town Meeting warrant.
Article 19 - MBTA Communities Zoning Bylaw
Art. 19 LSMFD District Map Proposed
FAQs - Article 19
Article 19 updates the zoning bylaw to bring Littleton into compliance with MBTA Communities Multifamily Zoning requirements. Section 5 updates the King Street Common (KSC) zoning district to allow Littleton to “count” the KSC multifamily and mixed-use district as the majority of the required 50-acre multifamily zoning district. Littleton will be able to count 600 of the 750-unit zoning requirement at the KSC district (the former IBM site). Section 1 through 4 adds a new 10-acre multifamily zoning district, the proposed Littleton Station MBTA Communities Multi-family District (LSMFD) adjacent to the commuter rail station, allowing “missing middle” housing adjacent to the Foster Street commuter rail station. This article builds on foundational planning work of the community by promoting recommendations of the Littleton Master Plan, the Littleton Common Revitalization Roadmap, and the Littleton Station Village Vision Plan.”
September 12, 2023: Planning Board meeting of September 14, 2023 included a discussion on the DRAFT MBTA Communities Zoning Bylaw. A new "Littleton Station MBTA Communities Multi-family District (LSMFD) is proposed to allow multi-family housing by right in accordance with Section 3A of the Zoning Act. The LSMFD district is proposed to be approximately 10 acres located adjacent to the Foster Street Commuter Rail Station. In addition, an update to the King Street Common Zoning District will allow Littleton to "count" the King Street Common zoning district toward compliance with State zoning requirements.
Current zoning work is based on prior work of the Littleton Station Committee, and consultants at Dodson & Flinker that resulted in the Littleton Station Design Standards from Feb. 2021.
August 17, 2023: Planning Board meeting of August 17, 2023 included a 6:15 p.m. discussion on the draft proposed MBTA Communities multifamily zoning district bylaw.
The State MBTA Communities Sample Zoning is at this link.
NEW INFORMATION: The State Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (formerly DHCD) announced revisions today (8-17-23) to the Compliance Guidelines for Multi-Family Zoning Districts under Section 3A of the Zoning Act (Guidelines). Details below, but for Littleton, this means that the list of discretionary grants that any community that does not meet these new zoning requirements just got MUCH LONGER.
Summary of Changes 8-17-2023
Revisions to Section 3A Compliance Guidelines REDLINE
Revisions to Section 3A Compliance Guidelines CLEAN
July 20, 2023: Planning Board meeting of July 20, 2023 included a 6:30 p.m. discussion on the MBTA Communities multifamily zoning requirements. Consultants Emily Innes of Innes Associates and Chris Herlich of RKG Associates shared an updated presentation for July 20, 2023 which included a third test scenario for potential residential developments near the Foster Street Commuter Rail Station. Thank you for joining us at 6:30 p.m. on July 20, 2023 in Room 103 of the Shattuck Street Town Offices.
JUNE 8, 2023: Planning Board met with consultants Emily Innes of Innes Associates and Chris Herlich of RKG Associates to review "minimum" buildout scenarios for three areas within 1/2 mile of the Foster street commuter rail station. MBTA Communities Zoning Study Presentation - 6-5-2023
New Information March 2023: The Massachusetts Attorney General has issued an advisory (PDF) regarding the enforcement of the MBTA Communities Zoning Law. The Planning Board, building on prior work of the Station Area Committee, and the Littleton Common Revitalization Roadmap, is working to bring a well-supported MBTA Communities zoning bylaw amendment forward within the required timeframe.
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 Workshop Number 2
"Recommendations" in Room 103 of the Shattuck Street Town Offices was a success; thank you for your input and your time. View the updated presentation (PDF). The Planning Board hopes to bring a zoning bylaw amendment to the Fall 2023 Town Meeting to bring Littleton into compliance with legal requirements AND to better meet local housing needs.
February 9, 2023, Workshop Number 1
"Investigations" - The Planning Board was pleased to host the Online Public Workshop Number 1; view the MBTA Communities Zoning Study Presentation - February 9, 2023 (PDF). The Meeting Number 1 survey has been closed. Thank you for your participation.
- February 2, 2023, Planning Board Meeting: Planning Board agenda for February 2, 2023, including a 7 pm discussion with our MBTA Communities consultants on their initial analysis of zoning: view the slide presentation from February 2, 2023, PB meeting (PDF).
- Public outreach workshop (Remote!): Online Public Workshop Number 1: Thursday, February 9, 2023, at 6 pm "Investigations (PDF)"
January 13, 2023
January 5, 2023
Planning Board Meeting: The Planning Board reviewed the Public Outreach Plan (PDF) and the Timeline/Scope of Services (PDF) for the Littleton Station Village/MBTA Communities work with consultant Emily Innes of Innes Associates, Ltd. at the meeting of January 5, 2023. The Planning Board is moving forward with the Updated Timeline for MBTA Communities work (PDF).
Fall 2022 News
As expected, DHCD has issued final guidance regarding the MBTA Communities legislation. The path for Littleton to come into compliance has changed since the draft guidelines were issued on December 15, 2021. Recalling that new laws require every MBTA community to zone for multi-family housing, Littleton will be working to meet the requirements within the statutory timeframes. Updating our zoning to allow multi-family housing "by-right" near the Foster Street commuter rail station will make our zoning more equitable.
MBTA Communities' zoning requirements are now tailored to each MBTA community. Littleton's minimum MBTA zoning district size is still 50 acres, and the minimum number of housing units required within the district is still 750, however, "only" 20% of the district is required to be within 0.5 miles of our Foster Street commuter rail station. This will allow the Town to better reflect our Master Plan goals of focusing first on Littleton Common while taking the time necessary for a thoughtful discussion on the goals for the Littleton Station Area. Recalling that Littleton recently received another $50,000 EEA Planning Assistance Grant for planning for the MBTA Communities Zoning/Littleton Station Area, this funding and timeline allow us the opportunity to meet the goals by the December 2024 deadline. Visit the DHCD's web page for a deeper explanation of the legislation and the Section 3A guidelines.
- The Town has contracted with Innes Associates to provide planning services (PDF) to bring a zoning bylaw that meets MBTA requirements and meets local housing needs, building on the prior work that the Town has done to promote transit-oriented-development near our commuter rail station.
- The Select Board reviewed an update "Littleton is an MBTA Community (PDF)" at their meeting on September 12, 2022. Key to this discussion, "multi-family housing" is defined as a building with 3 or more residential units or 2 or more buildings on the same lot with more than 1 residential dwelling in each building.
- Resources that explain the new law and how communities can meet the current housing challenges include:
- Mass.gov website: Multi-Family Zoning Requirements for MBTA Communities
- Missing Middle Housing Website
- Citizen's Housing And Planning Association
August 2022 News
The property owner at 245 Foster Street presented a Zoning Bylaw Amendment proposal to the Planning Board at the August 15, 2022, PB meeting. View the TEXT of the bylaw amendment proposal (PDF). The Planning Board took this proposal under advisement.
May 2022 Update
The Town of Littleton has submitted our MBTA Community Information Form to DHCD (PDF). This response outlines Littleton's current status regarding zoning for multifamily transit-oriented development. Our next step is to submit a "complete request for determination of compliance" or "notify DHCD of lack of full compliance" by December 31, 2022. We believe that the King Street Common zoning passed at the October 2021 Fall Town Meeting brings us toward the goal of by-right zoning for Transit-Oriented Development. An update to the zoning in the Littleton Station Village area surrounding the Foster Street Littleton/Route 495 MBTA Commuter Rail Station will also be required for us to remain eligible for State Grant funding.
January 2022 Update
The State Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has published draft guidelines for MBTA Communities to comply with the January 2021 Economic Development Legislation - in effect, Littleton will be required to update our zoning before December 2024 to allow the buildout of 750 units of multi-family housing within one-half mile of the Foster Street MBTA Commuter Rail Station. Visit the State (DHCD) guidance website.
The Planning Board and Select Board have both been briefed on these requirements.
- Planning Board Updates: January 6, 2022 (PDF), and February 3, 2022 (PDF)
- Select Board Briefing: January 24, 2022 (PDF)
Littleton will utilize the work of the Littleton Station Area Committee, our Littleton Station Village Vision Plan, and consultants to move forward with developing a zoning bylaw amendment to bring to a future Town Meeting to help bring the community into compliance with this legislation prior to December 2024. Detailed local information includes the updates and briefings posted above and the information below:
- Town Planner Overview (PDF)
- Draft Position Paper (PDF)
- Parcels within the 0.5-mile radius of the Foster Street MBTA Station (PDF)
- Parcels with Wetlands and Floodplain Areas (PDF)
July 2021 Update
The Littleton Station Area Committee, comprised of 2 Select Board members - Cindy Napoli and Matthew Nordhaus - and 2 Planning Board members - Delisa Laterzo and Mark Montanari - is now scheduling in-person meetings in Room 103 to reinvigorate the discussion on 40R Smart Growth in Littleton.
The LSAC, Planning Board, and Select Board discussed a 40R zoning bylaw amendment on January 28, 2021, in preparation for further public input and discussion for a Spring 2021 Town Meeting vote - view the July 2021 presentation. At March 4, 2021, Planning Board meeting, Select Board Member and Vice Chair of the Littleton Affordable Housing Trust Cindy Napoli shared this presentation regarding affordable housing (PDF).
The Planning Board reviewed a presentation on Littleton Station 40R District and Design Guidelines (PDF).
May 2021 Update
April 2021 Update
- April 16, 2021, 40R Smart Growth District Bylaw (PDF) and Updated 40R District Map! (PDF)
- Also, see the: Littleton 40R Design Standards (PDF)
- Any new comments by emailing Maren Toohill.
- Public Hearing Notice for Zoning Bylaw Amendments (PDF)
- Why 40R?
The proposed 40R Smart Growth District would provide more sustainable housing options for residents of all ages and would provide housing for households with a wider range of socioeconomic backgrounds than Littleton's standard 5-bedroom colonial on a 1-acre lot. This zoning bylaw amendment is based on the foundational planning work of the community: the April 2017 Littleton Master Plan "Cultivating the Future" and the January 2020 Littleton Station Village Vision Plan (PDF), all as brought forward by the work of the Littleton Station Area Committee over the past several months. This zoning bylaw amendment will set the table for the property owner(s) and developers to provide environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, climate resilient, and socially equitable housing.
- Will the public have input?
Yes. The purpose of the Planning Board's public hearing was to gather additional input from residents. If the 40R Smart Growth District bylaw is approved, and the property owner or developer applies to the Planning Board for approval of a specific plan, public input would also be considered at that time. This 40R Zoning Bylaw amendment will be on the June 12 Town Meeting for a vote by all Littleton residents present. Please email Town Planner Maren Toohill with your comments/questions.
- Is there need for additional housing/for additional affordable housing?
Yes. There is evidence of significant demand for new housing units at this site. A search for "housing crisis Massachusetts" highlights current references. Littleton understands that our inventory of homes is not adequate to meet the demand for Littleton residents; the Council on Aging recently re-formed the Housing Subcommittee to address this issue. Further information on housing needs for subsidized housing units and market-rate apartments, condos, townhomes, and starter home-style housing units at the Affordable Housing Trust page.
- How does affordable housing work?
The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development provides the framework/regulations for the price points for ownership and rental units, the definitions, the process for local preference whereby up to 70% of the units can include a local preference for current Littleton households, households with a family member who works in Littleton, and households with a child in Littleton schools. 25% of the new housing units in a Littleton Station 40R Smart Growth District would be deed-restricted affordable units, and both rental units and ownership units are anticipated at this location.
So apartments, condos, townhouses, starter homes, and possibly cottage dwellings, all ranging from studio and 1-bedroom apartments to 3-bedroom units can be anticipated. Pricing, sales, rentals, and a robust Fair Housing outreach process are required for all deed-restricted affordable housing units; the developer hires a housing specialist/lottery agent for the initial sales, and an onsite rental company manages the affordable rental process. Long-term monitoring of rental and sales/re-sales of affordable units is the responsibility of a monitoring agent, overseen by the Town, and would be outlined in the deed restrictions placed on affordable units. This process, including rental rates, price points, and selection process is set by the State, using HUD guidelines to assure compliance with the Federal Fair Housing Act. The 2020 sales price for an affordable unit in Littleton is approximately $205,000 for 1-bedroom units and $229,400 for 2-bedroom units.
- How will this new zoning impact our schools?
A 2017 report by our regional planning consultant, MAPC, as relayed by School Committee member Mike Fontanella to the Select Board, there is little, if any, correlation between the number of new housing units in a community and the number of school children. Visit the MAPC’s report enrollment page. The Town is continually monitoring student populations, and has been planning for meeting the needs of Littleton students for a very long time. If a new building/addition, staff, or program is needed to educate all of Littleton’s students, Littleton residents have always stepped up to make certain it happens. Littleton can point to results with the initial build-out of the 200-unit "15 Great Road" development: 144 apartment units and 56 single-family home ownership units resulted in 35 new students in the Littleton School District.
- What about Foster Street?
The Town has approved the reconstruction of Foster Street from Taylor Street to Balsam Lane utilizing Federal funding; that construction would occur in 2024 and the design includes a multi-use path; visit the Foster Street TIP project page for details. The section of Foster Street from Harwood Avenue to Tahattawan Road would be the next section to be reconstructed, and the design is at the 25% stage; construction of this section is likely for 2025 or 2026. That would be followed by the section of Foster Street from Balsam Lane to Harwood Avenue, including the reconfiguration of the intersection with Harwood Avenue. Development of the proposed 40R Smart Growth District, if approved at Town Meeting, followed by an application and Planning Board approval for a development proposal at this site, could occur over a similar timeframe.
- What about my property values?
Detailed information on property values of existing homes when new development that includes affordable housing was just published in Banker and Tradesman, and Redfin, see links above.
- What about commuter parking?
In a post-pandemic world, it is difficult to predict the "right" number of parking spaces, but Littleton has made accommodations for the following parking options in addition to the 200-plus spaces currently at the station (1) Development at 245 Foster Street could include up to 200 new commuter parking spaces; (2) The last-mile-delivery warehouse at 151 and 153 Taylor Street will include 30 commuter parking spaces; (3) The multi-use path will provide a new link to existing private, underutilized parking lots, allowing owners of those commercial buildings to lease commuter parking.
Updates for Jan. 28, 2021 Meeting:
- What is 40R?
The State website includes a full description, resources, news, and detailed information about the Chapter 40R program. Chapter 40R seeks to substantially increase the supply of housing across the State and decrease its cost, by increasing the amount of land zoned for "dense" housing - for Littleton, this means housing choices other than only single-family housing.
- Building on Our Heritage: A Housing Strategy for Smart Growth and Economic Development (Executive Summary)
- Understanding the Relationship Between Public Health and the Built Environment
- Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change (Executive Summary) (PDF)
- Littleton Station 40R District Design Standards - Draft - January 13, 2021 (PDF)
June 1, 2020 - Littleton Station Village Vision Plan
Consultant Judi Barrett of Barrett Planning Group presented the Littleton Station Village Vision Plan (PDF) at the Planning Board meeting on Thursday, June 4 at 8 pm.
- Presentation for June 4, 2020, Planning Board Meeting (PDF)
- Littleton Station Village Vision Plan (Smaller File Without Appendix) (PdF)
- Littleton Station Village Vision Plan (Appendix Only) (PDF)
Maps include the following:
- Concept Plan - Littleton Station Area (PDF)
- Compiled Map from April 5, 2019 Workshop - What is important to you? (PDF)
- Compiled Map from April 6, 2019, Workshop - Economic Development and Housing (PDF)
- Regulatory options are outlined in this table (PDF)
July 2020 Update
The Littleton Station Area Committee members asked to see a progression of plans presented for discussion for the so-called "Nordblom" site at 245 Foster Street. Those plans include:
February 12, 2020 - Littleton Station Village Vision Plan - In Progress
The Planning Board will continue to work with our consultant and the members of the Littleton Station Area working group to finalize a report presenting the results of this study. stay tuned for updates!
October 15, 2019
The Littleton Water Department met with the Master Plan Implementation Committee regarding the Water Department's outlook on implementing the 2017 Master Plan, including the Littleton Common Revitalization Roadmap, and Littleton Station Area Study. View the LWD Presentation (PDF).
July 29, 2019 - Littleton Station Survey Results
July 2019 Update
On Littleton Station Village planning study:
The Planning Board heard from consultants Judi Barrett and Peter Flinker at the PB meeting on July 18, 2019.
If you have comments/concerns/questions, please email Town Planner Maren Toohill. Comments received by August 15, 2019, can be included in the DRAFT Littleton Station Village report.
The Planning Board is working with a consulting team led by Barrett Planning Group, funded by a $65,000 grant from MassHousing and $11,250 local matching funds, on a "Littleton Station Area Study". Thank you to all who attended the Listening and Visioning sessions on Friday, April 5, and Saturday, April 6 - your input is important! And, thank you to everyone who participated in the online surveys - your input is important as this study moves forward.
For any/all Planning Board issues, please email Town Planner Maren Toohill with any questions or comments.
Transit-Oriented-Development (TOD) Case Studies
Documents - Updated June 2019
- April 5 and 6 Event Flyer: Planning for Littleton Station (PDF)
- January 2019 Project Status Memo (PDF)
- January 28, 2019 Slide Presentation at joint Board of Selectmen-Planning Board Meeting (PDF)
- June 6 2019 Slide Presentation at joint Planning Board-Board of Selectmen Meeting - Barrett Planning Group (PDF)
- November 2018 Project Update Memo (PDF)
- Rail Vision Presentation at June 6 2019 Meeting - MassDOT (PDF)
Survey Number 1 - Littleton Station Area Study: open May 13 through May 27 Survey Number 1 closed.