News & Updates

BPDA Covid-19 Response

May 12, 2020

BPDA to hold virtual public hearing at May Board meeting on Thursday, May 14

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) for the first time will hold a virtual public hearing at its May Board Meeting on Thursday, May 14, 2020 to ensure the safety of the public, staff members, and BPDA Board Members during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The agenda for the meeting is available on the BPDA website, here. The items on the agenda do not require or have already completed their public process.

The BPDA will hold the public hearing to consider Suffolk University’s 2020 Institutional Master Plan (IMP), which includes Suffolk University’s proposed residence hall at 1 Court Street. The proposed project completed its public process earlier this year with support from the community and local elected officials. With no changes proposed to the existing site or building at this time, 1 Court Street Residence Hall will provide approximately 300 new beds of undergraduate student housing. The project builds on the student housing goals outlined in Mayor Walsh’s housing plan.

The May Board meeting will be hosted through GoToWebinar and members of the public interested in participating in the public hearing for Suffolk University’s IMP, including 1 Court Street Residence Hall, may do so by registering at bit.ly/2ScmDU2. The public hearing will begin at 5:30 PM, but we encourage participants to log-in early to troubleshoot the new platform. For those who would like to view the Board Meeting but not participate, the meeting will be televised on Boston City TV (Xfinity Channel 24, RCN Channel 13, and Verizon Fios Channel 1962) and live streamed on boston.gov.

To ensure the public process is inclusive, the agency will also accept written testimony for the public hearing via email bpdaboard@boston.gov. Testimony should be submitted by Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 3:30 PM, and will be read aloud during the public hearing portion of the Board meeting.

With Governor Baker’s appointment of Brian Miller as the newest BPDA Board member earlier this month, the Board is also scheduled to elect a new BPDA Board Chair and Vice-Chair at the May meeting.

Boston Civic Design Commission to hold virtual May Monthly Meeting on Tuesday, May 5

May 1, 2020

The Boston Civic Design Commission (BCDC) May Monthly Meeting will be held virtually on Tuesday, May 5th, beginning at 5:15 PM, to ensure the safety of the public, staff members and BCDC Commissioners during COVID-19. Members of the public can participate in this meeting by going to https://bit.ly/BCDCMay5 or calling (213) 929-4212 and entering access code 503-368-095. The BCDC May Monthly Meeting agenda can be found here.

The BCDC, managed by the BPDA’s Urban Design Department, is charged with reviewing large development projects in order to protect and enhance Boston’s public realm through the design process. At the May Monthly Meeting, Commissioners will review new projects and existing plans only, and no final votes will be taken. There will be an opportunity for the public to offer verbal testimony at the virtual meeting. Comments may also be submitted via email to BCDC@boston.gov, and will be distributed to the Commissioners. As always, presentations from the meeting will be made available on the BPDA website here and on the project’s timeline webpage.

In response to COVID-19, the BPDA has postponed all BPDA-hosted public meetings for Article 80 development projects and planning initiatives until further notice. While projects will continue to be reviewed internally by BPDA staff, the public review process is on hold until public meetings can resume.

BPDA Design Review staff continue to review projects internally. Plans can be submitted via email; hard copies cannot be accepted. During this time, the BPDA cannot issue design review approvals for plans, but, as is possible, the BPDA Urban Design Department is queuing projects for Design Review approval.

As the BPDA’s response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, please check this page or follow us @bostonplans on Twitter for updated guidance.

BPDA will hold virtual April Board Meeting on Thursday, April 16

April 14, 2020

While the BPDA April Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, April 16, virtual participation will be used in response to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of the public, staff members, and BPDA Board Members. As always, the Board Meeting will be televised on Boston City TV (Xfinity Channel 24, RCN Channel 13, and Verizon Fios Channel 1962) and livestreamed on boston.gov.

The Board will not vote on any Article 80 development projects or hold any public hearings. The April Board Meeting Agenda is available here.

In response to COVID-19, the BPDA has postponed all BPDA-hosted public meetings for Article 80 development projects and planning initiatives until further notice. While projects will continue to be reviewed internally by BPDA staff, the public review process is on hold until public meetings can be resumed. Additionally, open comment periods will be extended until the public review process resumes. As the BPDA’s response to COVID-19 continues to evolve, please check this page or follow us @bostonplans on Twitter for updated guidance.

BPDA Public Guidelines Update

April 10, 2020

The BPDA is postponing all BPDA-hosted public meetings regarding Article 80 development projects and planning studies until further notice.

While projects will continue to be reviewed internally by BPDA staff, the public review process for both Article 80 development projects and the BPDA's planning studies is on hold until public meetings can be resumed.

As the BPDA’s response to Covid-19 continues to evolve, please check this page or follow us @bostonplans on Twitter for updated guidance.

Are comment periods being extended?

Open comment periods will be extended until the public review process for Article 80 development projects resumes.

Will the BPDA be holding virtual public meetings?

To ensure that our public process is equitable to all, the BPDA will not be holding virtual public meetings for Article 80 projects or planning studies at this time. We recommend that stakeholders with access to online resources engage in the public process through our website where materials for Article 80 projects and planning studies are posted.

Is BPDA Design Review still ongoing?

We are committed to keeping projects moving forward during this challenging time in a safe and effective manner. The BPDA continues to review projects electronically. Plans can be submitted via email (hard copies cannot be accepted). During this time, the BPDA cannot issue design review approvals for plans but, as is possible, the BPDA Urban Design Department is queuing projects for design review approval for when the situation improves. We appreciate your patience, and will remain in contact as the situation develops.

Will the BPDA Board meet as scheduled?

At this time, the April BPDA Board will continue as scheduled due to regulatory and statutory requirements. Remote participation will be used to ensure the safety of the public, staff members, and BPDA Board members. As always the Board meeting will be televised and livestreamed on boston.gov. Only projects that have previously completed their public process or items that do not require a public process would be eligible to be brought to the Board for consideration.

If you are a landlord or tenant of the BPDA's housing program, please visit the BPDA's housing page for information and resources.

Mayor Walsh extends order pausing non-essential construction work in the City of Boston

March 26, 2020

Due to the public health emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced he is affirmatively extending the City of Boston's order to pause non-essential construction for City of Boston permitted sites. Mayor Walsh first announced this order on March 16, 2020, and sites should have been locked down for safety by March 23. Due to the public health emergency in Boston and across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this pause is still in effect until further notice.

City of Boston launches multilingual text service with Covid-19 updates

March 24, 2020

In an effort to ensure all of Boston's communities get timely and accurate information about COVID-19, the City of Boston has announced the texting service Alert Boston is now available in Spanish, Haitan Creole, French, Cabo Verdean Creole, and Portuguese, in addition to English. Texts are sent multiple times a day with Boston case numbers, local updates about the spread of the virus, preventative measures to mitigate the spread, and city resources.

Residents can text BOSCOVID to 99411 to opt-in to alerts in English and the following keywords to opt-in to alerts in the languages below:

  • Text BOSEspanol to 99411 for Spanish
  • Text BOSKreyol to 99411 for Haitian Creole
  • Text BOSFrancais to 99411 for French
  • Text BOSKriolu to 99411 for Cabo Verdean Creole
  • Text BOSPortugues to 99411 for Portuguese

Residents who have questions are encouraged to call 311 to be connected with a telephonic interpreter, or through the Mayor's Health Line at 617.534.5050. Updates in 10 total languages can additionally be accessed through boston.gov/coronavirus#multilingual-help. Each language has its own page and hosts multilingual print materials distributed citywide:

Learn more about the City’s announcement, here: boston.gov/news/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-boston.

City of Boston announces construction activity to be suspended effective Tuesday, March 17

March 16, 2020

Effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 the City suspended all regular activity at construction sites in Boston. Employers should maintain the necessary crews to keep their sites safe and secure, keep any materials from blowing away, and prevent trespassing. Sites must be secured by Monday, March 23, 2020. After sites have been secured, skeleton crews will be permitted for the remainder of this suspension to ensure safety. The only work that will be permitted moving forward will be emergency work, which will need to be approved by the City of Boston's Inspectional Services Department.

Emergency work includes:

  • Emergency utility, road or building work, such as gas leaks, water leaks and sinkholes;
  • New utility connections to occupied buildings;
  • Mandated building or utility work;
  • Work at public health facilities, healthcare facilities, shelters, including temporary shelters and other facilities that support vulnerable populations;
  • Work which ensures the reliability of the transportation network;
  • Other work necessary to render occupied residential buildings fully habitable.

In addition to the list of essential construction projects, the City will, on a case-by-case basis, review requests for exceptions to the temporary construction moratorium. These may be granted by the Commissioner of Inspectional Services for building-related work or the Commissioner of Public Works for street-related work. These will be granted if they support increased public health and safety.

This policy is effective as of March 17 and will be reviewed at regular intervals. New projects cannot be started at this time, unless they meet the criteria above. Any currently permitted and active construction project must be in a secure situation by Monday, March 23. This policy only applies to projects permitted by the City of Boston.

For more information please read the City of Boston’s announcement here.

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