In the past several years, state housing agencies and regional and municipal planners have been encouraging "smarter growth" in Massachusetts, including the construction of new housing in developed areas close to existing infrastructure and services. There is a growing consensus among developers and municipal officials alike that new housing in these locations can and should be constructed more densely than in outlying areas to preserve open space, to minimize the need for new infrastructure, and to reduce total vehicle trips by ensuring that people are close to neighborhood retail and centers of employment.
Where zoning ordinances have not yet been updated to allow for denser development, Chapter 40B has proven to be a useful tool in the smart growth toolbox, because it allows construction of higher–density projects than allowed by zoning. Chapter 40B also promotes infill development by providing, for example, a mechanism for the approval of projects on smaller lots, or encroaching closer to the lot line, or providing fewer parking spaces, than otherwise would be allowed.
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