Climate Change & Environmental Planning

Waterfront Planning

Waterfront planning engages waterfront communities and stakeholders to develop plans and initiatives to better connect the City to the harbor—while supporting maritime activity, the working port, and efforts to protect Boston from sea level rise and coastal storms. The City’s waterfront provides a unique nexus of historic, civic, economic and ecological resources and accommodates a variety of residential, commercial, and recreational uses. Waterfront planning endeavors to balance these interests and uses to promote an active, climate resilient, and accessible Harbor that sustains vibrant waterfront neighborhoods and water dependent businesses.

The planning of Boston’s waterfront is guided through the development of neighborhood-specific Municipal Harbor Plans (MHPs) which blend the neighborhood vision—and development priorities—with the state’s Public Waterfront Act (MGL Chapter 91), which prioritizes public access and water dependent uses along the Commonwealth’s tidelands. MHPs provide direction to state permitting agencies for future waterfront development, and support city-wide priorities for waterfront programming and activation, including the creation of new civic and cultural amenities, open space, continuous access along the waterfront through Harborwalk, and the provision of water transportation infrastructure.

Much of the planning and urban design parameters outlined in MHPs are codified into zoning, such as the city’s Harborpark District Zoning (Articles 42A, 42B, 42C, 42D, 42E, and 42F) which governs development along many of Boston’s waterfront communities.

More on Waterfront Planning initiatives can be found through the links below.

Municipal Harbor Plans

  • Boston Planning & Development Agency
  • One City Hall Square, Boston, MA 02201
  • Tel: 617.722.4300  Fax: 617.248.1937
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