Squares + Streets Zoning Districts

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Latest Updates

[Monday, February 12] The Squares + Streets Draft Zoning Text Amendment has been revised as of February 12, 2024 and is now available under the Helpful Resources and Squares + Streets Draft Zoning Text Amendment sections of this page. The revised draft zoning text amendment is scheduled to be presented to the BPDA Board in March 2024, following further rounds of legal review.

The BPDA Zoning Reform Team reviewed public comments throughout the public comment period (now ended; open from December 5, 2023 to February 2, 2024) and revision process and have written responses to these public comments. Those responses can be found under the Helpful Resources and Public Comment Period sections of this page.

Both the revised draft zoning text amendment and responses to public comment submissions were also sent out through the Zoning Notices & Updates newsletter (which you can sign up for on the Get Involved page).

The BPDA Zoning Reform Team held a public meeting on revisions made to the draft zoning text amendment on February 6, 2024. Materials and recordings from that meeting are available here and in the Helpful Resources section.

Overview

Squares + Streets is a planning and zoning initiative of the BPDA and the City of Boston that focuses on neighborhood centers that are near transit and along main streets across Boston. A major component of the initiative is updating the zoning in these neighborhood centers to guide development that encourages a mix of building uses and heights, creates housing diversity and growth opportunities, and encourages active streets.

The BPDA’s Zoning Reform Team has drafted a zoning text amendment that will create several new Squares + Streets zoning districts to be adopted into the Boston Zoning Code to meet these goals.

Squares + Streets zoning districts will be categorized by how building types, land uses, parcel sizes, and building scales function across the variety of Boston’s main streets and neighborhood centers.

Once these zoning districts are adopted into the Zoning Code, they will become a set of zoning options that can be mapped onto appropriate areas of the City only after community engagement processes and analysis of local contexts.

Squares + Streets Draft Zoning Text Amendment

To create new Squares + Streets Districts, a new chapter in the Boston Zoning Code called Article 26 has been drafted. Related updates to several existing chapters of the Zoning Code are being proposed as well, including Article 8 (Regulation of Uses) and other citywide chapters of the Zoning Code to make sure that updates to Art. 26 and Art. 8 are reflected throughout the Zoning Code.

Please review the DRAFT ZONING AMENDMENT AND EXPLANATION MATERIALS BELOW to understand how all these updates work together to enable these zoning districts to function to meet the goals of this initiative:

Public Comment Period

The public comment period to inform revisions made to the Squares + Streets Draft Zoning Text Amendment was open from December 5, 2023 to February 2, 2024. During this period, The BPDA received over 200 public comment submissions and over 35 public comment letters sent via mail and email. Staff on the BPDA Zoning Reform Team reviewed these comments throughout the revision process and have written responses to both public comment submissions and public comment letters sent during the comment period. Those responses can be found below:

Public comments have informed revisions to the draft zoning text amendment to refine the dimensional, land use, and other regulations for each new zoning district to align with citywide goals for development on main streets and in squares (as stated on the Squares + Streets initiative page). While revisions to the draft zoning amendment are based on comments received up to the end of the public comment period on February 2, the BPDA will continue to collect public comments submitted after February 2 and share those comments biweekly up until the proposal of this zoning text amendment to the Boston Zoning Commission.

All public comments received both during and after the public comment period will also be shared with the Boston Zoning Commission for the hearing date where this amendment will be put up for adoption. Boston Zoning Commission meetings are public hearings, so public testimony can be shared live during those sessions, as well.

Connecting Planning Processes to Squares + Streets Zoning

Upcoming Planning: As part of the broader Squares + Streets initiative, the BPDA’s Comprehensive Planning Team will conduct 6-9 month Small Area Plans in areas identified as active neighborhood centers and main streets near high frequency and high capacity transit resources. Engagement in the Small Area Plans processes will be a key part in determining the appropriate selection of Squares + Streets zoning districts for a given area. The first two locations for these Small Area Plans are Cleary Square (Hyde Park) and Roslindale Square.

Recent Planning: In May 2023, the BPDA adopted PLAN: Mattapan, which identified appropriate locations in Mattapan for Squares + Streets zoning districts. Mattapan will see updates to its zoning maps and zoning districts based on the recommendations from PLAN: Mattapan that align with the Squares + Streets initiative.

Upcoming Events

Office Hours

Public Meetings

  • BPDA Board Meeting (tentative), Thurs, Mar 14 (3:30 PM – 7:30 PM)
  • Boston Zoning Commission Meeting (tentative), Wed, Apr 10 (9:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

Past Events

  • November Squares + Streets Zoning Community Office Hours (Recurring):
  • Squares + Streets Zoning Office Hours for Design Professionals (Recurring; 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Zoning Analysis Public Meeting, Mon, Oct 16 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Zoning Analysis Public Meeting, Mon, Oct 30 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Citywide Draft Zoning Recommendations Public Meeting, Mon, Nov 13 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Mattapan Squares + Streets Draft Zoning Recommendations Public Meeting, Wed, Nov 15 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Citywide Draft Zoning Amendment Public Meeting, Tues, Dec 5 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
  • Mattapan Residential Zoning Closeout, Squares & Streets Zoning Update, Wed, Dec 6 (6:00 PM - 8:00 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Citywide Draft Zoning Amendment Update Public Meeting, Wed, Jan 10 (6:00 PM – 7:30 PM)
  • Squares + Streets Citywide Zoning Amendment Final Public Meeting, Tues, Feb 6 (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)

Timeline

Zoning analysis, drafting, and adoption timeline graphic

Analysis + Evaluation Period:

  • Analyze existing building uses and development trends in Boston’s Squares + Streets areas to inform the new zoning districts.
  • Share and gather feedback on the initial analysis at a public meeting with Boston residents and at small workshops with direct users of the Zoning Code – community development corporations, small scale developers, designers, and the Inspectional Services Department (ISD).

Drafting, Public Comment + Revision Period:

  • Write the draft zoning text amendment to propose the new zoning districts based on feedback from the evaluation period.
  • Share the draft zoning text amendment at a public meeting and hold a public comment period to gather feedback. Hold virtual office hours for interested parties to ask Zoning Reform staff questions about the amendment. Share the revised draft zoning text amendment at a public meeting based on public comments.

Zoning Adoption Period:

  • Present to the BPDA Board for approval to petition the Zoning Commission on adopting the zoning text amendment. Present to the Zoning Commission for adoption of the zoning text amendment into the Zoning Code.