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Boston OKs S. Huntington Ave. guidelines that call for 'exceptional' public benefits to go with projects exceeding zoning rules

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  May 17, 2013 04:03 PM

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The city redevelopment authority’s board has unanimously approved new guidelines for development along South Huntington Avenue in Jamaica Plain, which, in part, call for developers to include extraordinary community benefits and public improvements if they want to build projects there that would exceed zoning requirements.

The guidelines, first unveiled several weeks ago, were drafted during a nearly four-month-long study the Boston Redevelopment Authority led to address concern from residents over of a series of recent changes, and more expected in the near future, along the S. Huntington Ave. corridor.

The 49-page report, or “framework,” says that along with the standard level of mitigation measures required from developers, the city will seek “exceptional public benefits, which are above and beyond typical mitigation measures” for projects that would exceed certain zoning rules and guidelines for development height, density and footprint.

“The South Huntington Framework for Future Development establishes a comprehensive vision for the area primarily addressing the use mix, open space and connections, transportation impacts, the development footprint, floor area ratio, and building heights,” the redevelopment authority said in a statement Thursday.

“The framework breaks the corridor into three distinct areas with recommendations tailored to each of these locations. It also recommends action items and specific time frames to improve the public realm, address transportation needs, and manage future growth,” the statement added. “In addition the framework provides guidance for exceptional public benefits for cases in which a project exceeds underlying zoning and is at the upper threshold of the recommended guidelines.”

The redevelopment authority said the framework is not an amendment to existing zoning rules, but will serve as a “reference” for projects that require city review under the Article 80 process and zoning variances.

The study focused on a three-quarter mile stretch of South Huntington, from its intersection with Huntington Avenue to where it meets Perkins Street, and details a range of suggestions for the area’s future that could be explored and implemented over the next 10 to 15 years, timed, in part, on the pace of development.

For more details on the report’s dimension-related guidelines for new development and for background on recent and ongoing development along the S. Huntington corridor, click here.

The report itself is available online, here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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