Attorney general files lawsuit against town of Milton for failing to comply with state housing law

BOSTON — Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Town of Milton for failure to comply with the MBTA Communities Law.

The state law requires municipalities served by the MBTA to have at least one reasonably sized district where multi-family housing can be built. Campbell last year issued an advisory that municipal compliance with the MBTA Communities Law is mandatory.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County, asks asks the court to order Milton to come into compliance with the law. The lawsuit was filed after a town referendum voted down the creation of a multi-family housing district that would have complied with the MBTA Communities Law, Campbell said in a statement on Tuesday.

Approximately 177 communities are subject to the MBTA Communities Law, and 12 of these had a deadline of Dec. 31, 2023 to enact a compliant zoning district, according to Campbell. The town of Milton developed a compliant zoning district to submit to the state but in February, voters in the town overturned it.

“The housing affordability crisis affects all of us: families who face impossible choices between food on the table or a roof over their heads, young people who want to live here but are driven away by the cost, and a growing workforce we cannot house,” Campbell said in a statement. “The MBTA Communities Law was enacted to address our region-wide need for housing, and compliance with it is mandatory.”

In a statement regarding Campbell’s lawsuit, Milton Town Administrator Nicholas Milano said, “We are reviewing the complaint filed by the Attorney General and we look forward to defending the Town. The Milton Select Board is meeting tonight to discuss the complaint and the Town’s next steps.”

Gov. Maura Healey supported the lawsuit in a statement on Tuesday.

“We need every community to come together and do their part to make housing more affordable. I’m grateful to Attorney General Campbell and her team for taking this important step today to enforce compliance with the MBTA Communities Law. This is not just about one community – but about the future of our workforce, our economy, and our entire state,” Healey said.

Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus said in a statement, “Compliance with the MBTA Communities Law is mandatory.”

“The Attorney General is keeping her commitment to the people of Massachusetts by upholding the law,” Augustus said. “It’s the right thing to do for the town of Milton and Massachusetts. The town has an obligation to adopt zoning for multi-family housing as of right.”

“The law will forge a more affordable and livable community by removing barriers to creating new multi-family housing in Milton,” Augustus said. “The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities is hopeful that we can continue working with Milton to bring the town into compliance and build a stronger, more affordable Massachusetts for everyone.”

State lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan MBTA Communities Law in 2021, and then-Gov. Charlie Baker signed it into law.

In her statement, Campbell said the law “is an important step to address the Commonwealth’s housing crisis by providing more multi-family housing, the shortage of which causes housing prices to continue to rise.”

“The housing affordability crisis disproportionately impacts working families, young people, and communities of color, and impedes the state’s economic growth,” the statement said. “The MBTA Communities Law also mandates that the housing must be suitable for families with children and not age restricted.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW