State Rep. Joe McGonagle, who sponsored legislation to streamline housing production through abutter appeals reform, testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary to urge his colleagues to support H.3397 “An Act to Streamline Housing Production through Abutter Appeals Reform” and raise it for a vote.
In McGonagle’s leadership role as the Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing, he is actively exploring every policy solution to combat the Housing Crisis facing the Commonwealth. McGonagle’s bill is a simple, yet effective step to streamline housing production by helping to prevent frivolous litigation against development.
McGonagle’s bill would allow judges, in their discretion, to impose a bond requirement of up to $15,000 on plaintiffs who file abutter appeal cases if the judge thinks the case lacks merit and is only being used to delay a housing development. By allowing judges to impose a bond, frivolous abutter appeals lawsuits would be discouraged, while still ensuring the right of abutters to bring legitimate concerns about a development to court.
“Over the years, we have seen how abutting neighbors with a ‘not in my backyard’ or NIMBY mentality negatively impact housing production and development, especially developments with affordable units. These abutting neighbors often employ land use appeals as a tactic to prevent any new development,” McGonagle asserted during his testimony.
While there is no simple solution to solving the Housing Crisis, McGonagle wholeheartedly believes that increasing the Commonwealth’s housing supply is paramount. During his testimony McGonagle revealed that over the past nine years the Metro Boston region has added 245,000 new jobs, while only permitting 71,600 housing units.
“At the present moment, the Commonwealth simply cannot afford to wait to create new housing units, especially low-income and senior units” McGonagle stressed to his colleagues.
McGonagle also emphasized that his bill does not discourage neighbors who have valid concerns about adjacent developments. As he testified, “this bill is not meant to dismiss the rights of abutters who want to bring legitimate concerns about a development to court. Instead, the intention of this bill is to dissuade frivolous lawsuits that are meant only to delay or stop a housing development.”
McGonagle’s bill currently awaits committee action.