Flood Resiliency Building Guidelines & Zoning Overlay District

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) has been working to advance the climate resilience objectives of the 2016 Climate Ready Boston plan. One of the primary goals of Climate Ready is to promote adapted buildings that will function to limit damage and displacement related to the impacts of a changing climate.

Among the most significant climate risks facing Boston is the danger to people and property from coastal flooding, which is predicted to increase over time with rising sea levels. To address this risk Climate Ready directed the BPDA to develop a set of design guidelines and a zoning overlay district to promote coastal flood resilience in vulnerable areas of the City.

In 2019 the BPDA developed and adopted Coastal Flood Risk Design Guidelines for new construction and building retrofits, as well as recommendations for a Flood Resiliency Zoning Overlay District. The Guidelines provide best practices for flood resistant design and are intended to be administered by BPDA staff for the review of projects within a proposed Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District.

The BPDA now intends to implement a new Coastal Flood Resilience Overlay District (CFROD), Article 25A, and related updates to existing zoning articles. The CFROD and zoning map will relate to areas of the City of Boston anticipated to be flooded with a 1% chance storm event in 2070 with 40-inches of sea level rise, formalize the implementation of the Guidelines, and establish sea level rise design flood elevations for new construction and retrofits. The CFROD will define the purpose and scope of the overlay, the proposed use and dimensional regulations that will apply to projects within it and procedures for review of projects subject to Article 80 of the zoning code.

An updated version of draft zoning language for Article 25A, and related changes to Article 80 and 3-1A are available below along with a redline version representing updates from the September 9, 2020 draft, and a response to comments FAQ. Next steps in the process include requesting authorization at the September 13, 2021 BPDA Board Meeting to petition the Boston Zoning Commission to adopt Article 25A and the overlay district map at their October 13, 2021 hearing.

Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District Summary
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Public Engagement

The BPDA hosted two public meetings to review the draft Coastal Flood Resilience Overlay District zoning article, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 from 6 PM – 8 PM, and Friday, January 15, 2021 from 10 AM – 12 PM.

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