Visit the town website to add your ideas to the interactive map. Image from

MBTA calls for transit oriented multi-family housing

By Anne O’Connor
August 1, 2023

Under new requirements set for MBTA transit communities, Concord, with its two train stations, is looking at creating a zoning overlay, allowing multi-family housing in areas not currently zoned for it. Over the course of the summer and early fall, the Planning Board is actively looking for residents’ input on what the changes should look like.

A few things are non-negotiable, attendees learned during a community workshop held virtually on July 26: A minimum of 1,094 units must be allowed. Of these, 50% must be within a half-mile radius of the two stations. A total of 50 acres allowing multi-family housing of three units or more must be identified.

The zoning changes do not mean the housing must be built. The state only requires that the zoning code allows the construction. 

“It is not a production mandate,” said Jeff Davis, a senior planner with Horsley Witten Group, which is working with the town to develop a zoning framework. They are paid for by the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. 

While the number of units and placement are specific to Concord and are based on housing inventory, some requirements are statewide: By right — that is, without any special permits — a gross density of 15 units per acre is required and there can be no age restrictions and no limit on the number of bedrooms per unit.

The town is allowed to set height restrictions, but cannot require any commercial use or affordable units. However, by using incentives such as allowing for additional floors, the town may get a developer to agree to include commercial space or affordable units, Davis said.

Horsley Witten presented a map, available on the town website, where residents can see the transit areas, existing and proposed multi-family areas, and land excluded by the state. If an area of excluded land is owned by the town, the town can choose to include it in the zoning overlay.

Map viewers can “drop a pin” and leave comments about places they feel would be good for multi-family developments.

On July 26, the main meeting broke out into groups of five or six people who discussed concerns and priorities before returning to the main room. 

Commonalities emerged. Most felt the housing should be allowed in both West Concord and Concord Center. Keeping a village feeling, where folks can walk to shopping and schools, was seen as desirable.

Creating multi-family housing for people further from the stations could present other challenges, as there is no in-town public transit to get there. Commuters would need to drive to the station.

Residents can be part of the planning by completing a survey on the town website, using the map linked to the website to suggest places where multi-family housing would work and by attending workshops on August 23 and September 20 or during more informal sessions to be held August 1, 10-11 a.m. at Haute Coffee; August 7,  9-10 a.m. at Verrill Farm; August 17, 1-2 p.m. at Nashoba Brook Bakery; and virtually on August 23, 12-1 p.m. Link available on town website.