CityOfBoston Official An official website of the City of Boston

This is the website for the City of Boston’s new Planning Department, which launched on July 1. The staff and many responsibilities of the Boston Planning & Development Agency have moved to the Planning Department of the City of Boston including planning & zoning, urban design, development review, and real estate divisions. Please excuse any misalignment you may see on our site as we transition to the City. Learn more

News & Updates

New Planning & Zoning Initiatives Moving Forward

Nov 14, 2013

The BRA Board reviewed several planning and zoning proposals at the November board meeting, including urban agriculture, Climate Change and Resiliency Guidelines, and Dorchester Avenue zoning. The BRA Board also approved several Institutional Projects and Planning and Zoning initiatives. These projects will create more than 3,900 new construction jobs and invest more than $4 billion in the City of Boston over the next decade.

Urban Farming in Boston is Poised to Expand

The BRA Board unanimously approved adoption of Article 89, which will support the growth of urban agriculture in the City of Boston. The measure requires an additional approval from the Boston Zoning Commission, which is anticipated in December 2013.
Article 89 introduces significant changes to the way the Zoning Code treats urban farming. The new article explains allowed and conditional uses for a range of agricultural activities, including ground-level farms, roof-level farms, roof-level greenhouses, composting, aquaculture, hydroponics, aquaponics, farmers’ markets, farm stands, and soil safety. The keeping of hens and bees on residential property is already addressed in the existing Zoning Code, but Article 89 details size and maintenance requirements for these uses. Article 89 applies only to commercial agricultural endeavors; community gardens and backyard gardening are not addressed in Article 89.

The BRA and the City of Boston first began exploring the adoption of urban agriculture into the Zoning Code in January 2012 at the request of Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Goals of the initiative were to increase access to affordable and healthy food, promote economic opportunity, and increase education and knowledge around healthy eating and food production. The BRA and the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives (MOFI) collaborated for over a year and a half with each other and with a 25-member Urban Agriculture Working Group in order to develop Article 89. During the extensive public process, the BRA, MOFI, and Working Group held 17 public Working Group meetings. In the summer of 2013, the BRA and MOFI presented a draft of Article 89 to Boston’s neighborhoods through 11 community meetings, and incorporated certain suggested revisions into the final draft.

Climate Change Guidelines Adopted into Development Review

high-tide-during-hurricane-sandy-at-sargents-wharf2.jpgThe BRA Board unanimously approved adoption of the Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Guidelines into the Article 80 development review zoning. The guidelines and associated checklist will assist  project proponents in analyzing project proposals within the framework of climate change, as a step in safeguarding the future of new buildings in Boston in the event of extreme weather conditions.

The guidelines cover sea-level rise, higher average temperatures, more frequent and longer extreme heat events and droughts, more severe freezing rain and heavy rainfall events, and increased wind gusts. In addition, the guidelines will require analysis of secondary weather event impacts such as interruptions to utilities, communications systems, and transportation networks. All development projects subject to Article 80 Small and Large project review, including all Institutional Master Plan amendments will be asked to adhere to the guidelines and complete the climate preparedness checklist, which will be reviewed by the Boston Interagency Green Building Committee.

In February 2013 Mayor Menino directed his administration to implement several climate change initiatives, including the development of these climate change guidelines. The work is part of the Boston’s Climate Action Plan update due in 2014.

Photograph by Matt Conti of

Dorchester Avenue Zoning Updated

The BRA Board unanimously approved consolidating Dorchester Avenue’s two zoning districts into one neighborhood zoning district. The move will assist in ensuring that the current momentum and enhancements to Dorchester Avenue are sustained for the future of the corridor.

Since 2010 BRA staff have worked with a 17 member advisory group appointed by Mayor Menino and made up of Dorchester residents, property owners, business owners, and other stakeholders to remove inconsistencies, dimensional regulations, and usage guidelines across the two zoning districts.

Share This Article:

Subscribe to our News & Updates

*indicates required
First Name : Last Name :
Zip Code : *Email: