BPDA Releases Draft Zoning Overlay

Boston – The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) has released a draft zoning overlay that will require new development and retrofits to take additional steps to limit the damage and displacement related to the impacts of coastal storms and sea level rise. It promotes resilient planning and design, provides consistent standards for the review of projects, and maximizes the benefits of investments in coastal resilience.

The Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District will apply to areas of the city that could be inundated during a major coastal storm event.

In 2019, the BPDA adopted guidelines to provide clear strategies and best practices for developers, business owners, and residents to respond to climate change.

The Zoning Overlay (Article 25A of the Boston Zoning Code) will provide new definitions and standards for building dimensions and uses to facilitate flood resilient design for new projects and building retrofits.

Intended to prevent flood damage by elevating building occupiable space, flood proofing areas beneath flood elevations, and promoting health and safety by preventing uses such as living space below the flood elevation, the specific provisions of the overlay include Building Height, Building Setbacks, Lot Coverage and Required Open Space, Gross Square Floor Area, and Limitations on Use Below the Sea Level Rise Design Flood Elevation.

The BPDA has also launched the Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative to assess and identify strategies to strengthen green building zoning requirements to a zero net carbon standard for new construction, to meet Mayor Walsh’s goal for Boston to be carbon neutral by 2050.

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