Attorney General Andrea Campbell filed a lawsuit against the town of Milton Tuesday morning to enforce compliance with the MBTA Communities Law.

The move comes after Milton voters rejected new zoning for multifamily housing earlier this month, as mandated by the 2021 law, which requires municipalities in the MBTA’s service area to have at least one district where multifamily housing is allowed by right.

“We’re simply keeping our word of suing the town, seeking a court order for the court to say: ‘Not only is the law mandatory, but that they absolutely have to comply with the law.’ And [we are] continuing to be reasonable every step of the way,” Campbell said on Boston Public Radio.

Her office also “contemplated” challenging the legality of the vote earlier this month but opted to focus on the issue of compliance and setting that precedent for any other city or town that’s considering not complying.

She warned other towns against following Milton’s lead, since towns failing to adhere to the MBTA Communities Law risk ineligibility for various state funding programs.

“The governor has already said that [her office is] going to follow through with [Milton] not receiving certain public funds. ... We hope that Milton will take a different direction ... and not continue to waste time,” Campbell added.

Gov. Maura Healey, in an interview Tuesday on Boston Public Radio, said she “strongly” supports the lawsuit.

At least one of Milton’s leaders is ready to respond to the lawsuit.

“I believe the town should vigorously defend itself against any legal action,” said Michael Zullas, chair of the Milton Select Board.

Zullas hopes any withholding of grant funding will be postponed until the court issues a decision.

Campbell argued that her office has been reasonable and cooperative with towns.

“I think it’s crystal clear to everyone, including folks in Milton, that we are in a housing crisis,” Campbell emphasized, underscoring issues that poses like lack of shelter, safety and economic stability. The zoning requirement in the MBTA Communities Law is “one significant tool” to combat that crisis.

Housing Secretary Ed Augustus has met with towns to facilitate compliance, she said, offering technical assistance and flexibility where needed.

Should Milton continue to be non-compliant, Campbell noted the possibility of “seeking permits to be issued” or appointing someone to enforce the MBTA Communities Law.

Bob Seay contributed reporting.

Updated: February 27, 2024
This story was updated with comment from Gov. Maura Healey and Milton Select Board Chair Michael Zullas.