Wrentham concerned MBTA zoning law could put strain on schools, infrastructure

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WRENTHAM – They may not have voted to reject the state’s mandate but leaders in Wrentham expressed concerns and frustrations against the MBTA Communities Act. 

The Baker Administration policy is being set in motion by Governor Maura Healey as her team has worked for months to bring cities in towns to compliance. The law requires municipalities deemed an MBTA Community to create new multi-family housing. The state has long viewed the legislation as a tool to help bring relief to the state’s ever-growing housing crisis. 

In a Tuesday night meeting, Wrentham town leaders voted to send a letter to Governor Healey and two state lawmakers with their concerns over possible implications of moving forward with the law. 

“This is potentially a huge change to what our town is going to look like,” said Wrentham Selectman Chris Gallo. “And to give us no say in it, I think, is unfair and I think it’s shortsighted.” 

Leaders expressed concern that as written, the mandate would welcome a 13% population increase in Wrentham. A reality some argued could put enormous strain on schools, emergency services and infrastructure. 

“We are just asking for some time to make sure that the decisions that are made are proper for the town,” said Rebecca Zitomer.
“It really sits badly with me to have the state come in and run over us,” said Chuck Woodhams. 

Earlier this month, voters in Milton rejected the state’s mandate. On Tuesday, Attorney General Andrea Campbell announced the state filed a lawsuit against the town for ignoring compliance. 

“We have made it clear that it is mandatory,” Campbell said at a press conference Tuesday. “We did that early last year. Milton has decided to go in a different direction, so we are using our litigation tool to bring them into compliance and to frankly do our job which is to enforce the law of Massachusetts.” 

Wrentham leaders met just hours after that lawsuit was announced. They voted unanimously to send their letter of concern to the governor but adopted a wait and see approach before reaching compliance. The selectman voted to move their decision day from June until November to give them more time to see how other towns dealt with the issue. 

State law requires Wrentham to reach compliance with the MBTA Communities Act by December 31, 2024.

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