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.
June 17, 2014, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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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."

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Published on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 in The Boston Globe
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