The current building boom in Somerville, Massachusetts includes adaptive reuse, transit-oriented development, and mixed-use redevelopment. "But none of that compares to what Somerville will unveil this month: a new zoning code that will treat routine home improvement projects as routine," writes Paul McMorrow. "And when it does, it will flip every zoning code in Massachusetts upside-down."
In scrapping its old zoning code entirely, the new code "measures prototypical Somerville homes — homes that have acquired dormers, porches, finished basements, and modest rear additions through the years — and legalizes additions that fit within those common parameters. Established community norms will become the new baseline, and projects that fit within them will no longer need zoning approvals."