Zoning Code Changes as 'Customer Service' in Somerville

Planners in Somerville, a dense suburb adjacent to Boston, are touting the city's new zoning code as a customer service document. An editorial says the changes could flip zoning in the state of Massachusetts upside-down.

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."

Full Story: Somerville zoning: sane at last

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