Summary: The issuance of Executive Order 385 (“Planning for Smart Growth”) in 1996 led to the creation of a number of smart growth initiatives that targeted concentrated growth and the revitalization of urban centers. However, it wasn’t until 2000, when the state passed the Community Preservation Act, that smart growth planning was solidified in the law and a program was established to support communities’ preservation of open space. Massachusetts subsequently adopted Chapter 40R, the Smart Growth Zoning Law, which provides financial incentives for municipalities to increase density and build affordable housing in areas with good access to transit. The Commonwealth Capital program, initiated in 2005, applies several smart growth criteria to municipalities’ applications for state funding.
In 2009, the state implemented language from Chapter 90E, mandating the accommodation of biking and pedestrian traffic in future transportation construction plans. This was followed by the launch of Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s GreenDOT program aimed at reducing the state’s contribution of transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions.
Massachusetts has also passed legislation to create a dedicated funding stream for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The MBTA State and Local Contribution Fund is financed by a 1% sales tax implemented in the state.
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