Bridging History

Ipswich MBTA Community

Resources & views from community members



This page contains information about events that are no longer current.

Materials that are of continuing interest, such as references, are placed elsewhere, especially in the Requirements pages.

Local News coverage


Ipswich Local News photograph
IPSWICH — The town can’t handle that kind of growth. There is a big opportunity to provide more affordable housing. While not desireable, it is manageable.

Plenty of opinions were offered at the first Section 3A public forum last week as a task force launches its quest to become compliant with the state’s new MBTA zoning law.

March 28, 2023, by John P. Muldoon

Link to article.

Guest column by Helen Weatherall - March 20, 2023

Link to article.

Letter from Leah Crespi

I believe Ipswich will continue to grow in beautiful and fun ways. Increasing the population won’t just increase the number of people who reside in the area — it increases our potential to innovate, try new things, and learn new ways to appreciate the spaces we share.

I, for one, am excited to see what the future brings!

Link to letter

By Christine Hezzey - February 2, 2023

To the editor:

Regarding your letter about the MBTA housing and the appearance of Ipswich: I have no idea how you think that constructing more buildings downtown will improve the appearance of Ipswich.

It will look like downtown Beverly or Bridge Street in Salem.

Link to letter.

By John P. Muldoon - February 7, 2023

downtown Ipswich photo
If you want to cause a giant hullabaloo in this town, all you need to do is threaten to stick a shovel in the ground. Before you know it, you’ll be surrounded by NIMBYs and busybodies while a Greek chorus stands off to the side keening about “turning our little town into a city.”

So here’s what should happen, in my humble opinion. The town should embrace the MBTA communities law, which requires that 50 acres be set aside for multi-family housing by right.

Link to article.

MBTA Communities map

By John P. Muldoon - January 31, 2023

NORTH SHORE — The January 2021 economic development bill was signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker. It added a new Section 3A to the state’s zoning law to stimulate the development of more housing in eastern Massachusetts.

Link to article.

Rowley MBTA Community planning

By John P. Muldoon - January 30, 2023

ROWLEY — The town will nominate two areas totaling 132.35 acres in area in its bid to comply with a state mandate to allow more dense housing by right.

Link to article.

By John P. Muldoon - February 7, 2023

Planning Board photo
IPSWICH — A planning board member found herself in disfavor with fellow board members when she told the public to “do your own research, because you won’t get it here.”

“Helen, that was extremely rude,” chair Toni Mooradd told Helen Weatherall, who made the remark.

“That was out of line,” agreed board member Mitchell Lowe.

Weatherall’s remark came during a discussion about the MBTA Communities zoning process the town is facing.
Link to article.
Ipswich MA development

By Paul Nordberg, January 9, 2023

This guest column is not specifically about Section 3A, but raises questions relevant to planning for the new state requirements. Is housing being built in town center, the focus of state and local policy? How much of the growth is affordable? What are the building types? Is the rate of development rising?

Link to article.

By Charlotte Kahn, January 4, 2023

This guest column provides a broad overview of the new requirement, as well as the beginning of the Town's approach to the mandate. It cites opportunities as well as flaws with the requirements.

Link to article.

Washington Street carwash


There is no formal tie between the 5 - 11 Washington Street project and the MBTA Community requirements.

However, the development is a good example of what might fit. The approved project has a density of 16 units per acre, just above the minimum requirement of 15 units per acre. It is certainly close to the MBTA station.

Link to article.

There is no direct tie between the MBTA Community requirements and provision of subsidized housing. However, the two needs may overlap, and multifamily housing is apt to be more affordable than traditional detached single-family homes.

However, the focus on 40Bs is misplaced because, even if the 10% affordable-housing target is reached, there would still be a need for reasonably priced housing, [Ipswich Housing Partnership member Don] Greenough said.

He also said the town’s community development plan also calls for more affordable housing. It and numerous other reports over the last 20 years have also called for more zoning to encourage multifamily development, he added. “There has been no movement made on that,” he said.

Link to article.

By John P. Muldoon - November 18, 2022

Assistant Planner Andrea Bates provides an update on the MBTA Community project and the formation of a task force. Planning Board member Helen Weatherall strongly objects that the proposed membership list does not provide adequate representation from outside community members.

Link to article

By John P. Muldoon - November 15, 2022

Students from the Harard Graduate School of Design will be involved in study of possible uses of the police and fire stations, the Hammatt Street lot, and the possibility of housing in the area of the MBTA station.

Link to article

By Charlotte Kahn - April 21, 2022

The author concludes, "Real planning — for affordability and livability, coherent city and town centers, ecological health, public engagement in decision-making, energy-efficiency and climate action, equitable development, and historic preservation — counts for nothing at EOHEC, DHCD, and the misnamed Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC)."

Link to article

By John P. Muldoon - March 29, 2022

The Select Board approved an article of comment on the proposed MBTA regulations.

Link to article

Guest column by Paul Nordberg - February 3, 2022

Link to article

By John P. Muldoon - December 20, 2021

The article describes the proposed regulations from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community development, and their possible effects in Ipswich.

Link to article

Town Boards & Committees


Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Section 3A Task Force initial meeting.

Link to agenda.

No information about the discussion is available.

Update from Assistant Planner Andrea Bates, & discussion by Board

Andrea Bates provides an update on the MBTA Community project and the formation of a task force. Planning Board members discuss, including a concern that the proposed membership list may not provide adequate representation from outside community members.

Link to ICAM recording, start of discussion at 2:31


I know this is going to be on ICAM, and so I need to be careful about expressing my true feelings about the MBTA, the new law… I just don’t see how communities can do that, especially if you don’t have 100% waste water capacity, I mean, many communities are on septic, and how do you – there’s just no way. I just can’t see it. But I think the principle of, there needs to be broader acceptance of higher density in communities that have housing crises, shortfall, whatever descriptor we want to put on it. That I kind of agree. There needs to be a commitment to trying to improve density if you want to create more units for people who want to live and work here, and create that whole range of housing options. But density doesn’t fit everywhere, and again, you have to be thoughtful and be mindful of how do you integrate the higher density housing into the community character when the community’s housing profile has largely been single-family homes for many, many years. Communities do that successfully, but it is hard work, and it’s challenging,

Link to ICAM recording, start of discussion at 1:44



Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing a broad mandate for housing construction across the State of New York. Unlike Section 3A in Massachusetts, the New York provisions include enforceable targets for actual construction of new housing units in local communities. If these targets are not met, the State may take a variety of steps to facilitate housing construction.

One group of the propsed requirements set requirements parallel to those of Massachusetts, but much more stringent. These would require all areas within half a mile of MTA commuter railroads to allow increased housing density, not just 50 acres (one tenth of the total). The minimum density would vary from 15 to 50 units/acre, depending on distance from NY City border. For a distance like that from Ipswich to Boston, the minimum density would be 30 units/acre.

Beside requiring more area and numeric density, the New York regulations would allow communities much less flexibility than those of Massachusetts. For instance, zoning could not regulate the dimensions or placement of structures. Allowed local review would be limited to the capacity of local water, sewer and utility services; and to the provisions of objective, published, aesthetic standards.

The New York regulations include many further requirements, including a section like Massachusetts 40B to promote affordable housing.

One online summary provides a four-page overview. The full text of the proposed legislation (Part G, beginning at PDF page 117) is also available on the web. There are many commentaries posted. As one can imagine,the proposal is very controversial.

Written by Elise Harmon, posted April 1, 2022

The recommendations suggest that the draft guidelinees did not go far enough in some key areas.

Link to MAPC recommendations

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