The rezoning of Hyde Park has begun, with city officials promising to incorporate a number of resident suggestions into a new zoning article based on the neighborhood’s strategic plan.
Planners from the Boston Redevelopment Authority recently presented a residents’ advisory group with a draft zoning article that calls for retaining the current zoning in most instances and recommends some protections to maintain the neighborhood’s character. The draft is based on the strategic plan developed through a two-year public process and approved by the authority’s board on Aug. 16.
The new zoning would make almost no changes in residential districts and relatively few in the neighborhood’s commercial and industrial corridors, but would introduce historic overlay districts where any new construction would be subject to additional vetting by city agencies to ensure compatibility with existing structures. It would also add protective districts for waterways and green spaces, to help preserve the neighborhood’s natural areas and encourage developers to include public views and access to them.
Though the overall plan was developed through a long, public process, many details had not been discussed before the recent advisory group meeting, where some concerned residents said elements of the draft plan did not reflect the community’s intent and changes were necessary.
Readville resident Craig Martin expressed concern that the draft zoning article didn’t expressly state that new mixed-use buildings in Cleary and Logan squares would be restricted to commercial uses on the first floor, something that District 5 City Councilor Robert Consalvo had specifically requested before the BRA board preceding its vote on the neighborhood strategic plan.
Marie Mercurio, a senior planner for the BRA, said the authority doesn’t want to see first-floor residences in the neighborhood’s commercial district any more than the residents do. She said a footnote would be added to the zoning article to clarify that restriction.
Mercurio also agreed to remove a section that would have set a lower requirement for off-street parking spaces for affordable housing — just .7 spaces per unit. Instead, those units will be held to the same standard of 2 spaces per unit that applies throughout the residential districts.
The planners are also considering tightening down on potentially hazardous industrial uses in at least one light industrial zone that also contains a number of residences. But BRA planner Ted Schwartzberg cautioned residents that it is often best to tread lightly, because adding too many restrictions to a district could “scare away” desirable amenities from the neighborhood.
There will be a second advisory group meeting later in October, followed by a larger community meeting at the Hyde Park Community Center in November. The planners hope to present the finalized plan to the BRA’s board of directors in January and, if that board approves the plan, move on to approval from the Boston Zoning Commission in February.
To download the draft zoning article or other documents from the planning process, visit http://www.tinyurl.com/hpzoning.