Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative

Review the Draft Zoning Amendment—Updated October 8, 2019


The Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative is the next step in the implementation of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway District Use and Development Guidelines, which were adopted by the BRA in 2010 to preserve and activate the Greenway’s open space resources and enhance connections between the Downtown’s neighborhood districts and waterfront.

The Greenway Guidelines will serve as the master planning framework for the development of a new Downtown Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP) which will harmonize the Guideline’s recommendations with the state’s Waterways Regulations. The planning effort will also involve the development of a Waterfront Activation and Public Realm Plan, and zoning recommendations for the Greenway District corridor.

All of the waterfront parcels within the Greenway District are subject to the state’s Waterways Regulations, Massachusetts General Law (M.G.L.) Chapter 91, which establishes specific building design and use requirements to ensure new waterfront projects serve a proper public purpose and support water-dependent uses. The Waterways Regulations include provisions that allow for municipalities to deviate from these requirements to accommodate local objectives through the development of municipal harbor plans. The Guidelines provide the necessary analysis of the built environment and potential densities that are required for the development of a MHP.

To facilitate the harbor planning process a range of public benefits and mitigation offsets need to be advanced for projects that propose building metrics that do not conform to Chapter 91 standards. A Downtown Waterfront Activation and Public Realm Plan will be developed as part of the planning effort to assist in this endeavor. This plan will inform the MHP process through the establishment of guidelines and priorities to further activate the watersheet and water’s edge.

The initiative will also review existing zoning and land use controls that relate to the full extent of the Greenway District corridor, from Chinatown to the North End, and develop recommendations that will serve to implement the Greenway Guidelines and the Downtown Waterfront District MHP. Please visit for all current updates.

Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan Zoning Amendment

Thank you for participating in the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan public process and the associated Article 42A zoning amendment process. BPDA Board authorization was granted on September 12, 2019 to petition the Boston Zoning Commission to adopt text and map amendments to Boston Zoning Code Article 42A—Harborpark District, North End/Downtown Waterfront and, Dorchester Bay/Neponset River Waterfront to conform with the Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (“EEA”), Matthew A. Beaton’s April 30, 2018 Decision to Approve the Downtown Waterfront District Municipal Harbor Plan, pursuant to 301 CMR 23.00. The draft zoning amendments approved on September 12, 2019 reflect the version presented during the public meeting on August 12, 2019.

BPDA staff completed a further review of the September 12, 2019 Board authorized amendments and determined that additional modifications are required prior to petitioning the Zoning Commission. The proposed text amendments modify the September 12, 2019 Board authorized text amendments to align with the City’s Inclusionary Development Policy and to reiterate the City’s goal of providing equal access to the waterfront. Please visit the link below to see the modified text amendment that will be presented to the BPDA Board on October 17, 2019. The document below includes the BPDA Board authorized amendments (in yellow) and the newly proposed amendments (in green). If approved by the BPDA Board, staff will petition the Zoning Commission to adopt the draft Zoning Amendment to Article 42A dated 10/8/19 below. Please share your comments with Chris Busch at by October 16, 2019.

Draft Zoning Amendments to Article 42A—Harbor Parks District—Updated October 8, 2019

Past Meetings

Open Office Hours for the Downtown MHP Zoning Amendment

Visit the Leventhal Room on August 19, 2019, from 10-11 am or 6-7 pm for an informal opportunity to ask questions and share feedback with BPDA planners about the Downtown Municipal Harbor Plan Zoning Amendment. More information is available here.

Public Meeting for the Downtown MHP Zoning Amendment—Presentation Materials

The BPDA hosted a public meeting on August 12, 2019, from 6:30–8:00 pm for community members to learn more about the draft zoning amendments to Article 42A. Please visit this link to download the presentation materials.

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Share Your Thoughts

We want to hear from you! All questions, comments and ideas are welcome. Comments are received and reviewed by members of the Downtown Waterfront Planning Initiative team.

To submit a comment in a language besides English, please email
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