For the past decade East Boston has experienced a development boom that can be hard to keep track of for the average resident.
Unless you have attended one of several community group meetings held each month in various parts of the neighborhood it has become increasingly difficult to keep abreast of development projects happening in Eastie.
This week Mayor Martin Walsh announced a new Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) project tracker that will allow residents to gather information about ongoing projects.
The new online tool that can be found at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/c019ba9a25cb4f33bb6cdd2f69b543d4/page/page_0/ fulfills the requirements set forth in Mayor Walsh’s Executive Order Relative to the Zoning Board of Appeal.
Walsh said this new tool will increase access to information related to proposed projects seeking relief from the ZBA. The tracker is designed for anyone to quickly search for a specific appeal that has been submitted to the ZBA, or to search for appeals based on criteria such as location or applicant, in order to identify the status of the appeal.
“Increasing access to the workings of municipal government is important for our residents to have access to resources about the city’s role in the development and livelihood of our residents,” said Walsh. “The Zoning Board of Appeals’ online tracker will increase our city’s transparency and our residents’ understanding of our neighborhoods.”
The East Boston Times took a look at the new, easy to use ZBA Tracker Monday. The new feature allows viewers to use an interactive map of Eastie or other Boston neighborhoods to view projects seeking relief or by typing in the address which provides the following additional details for each proposed project: The status of the appeal; Community process; Date and location of an appeal application; Hearing scheduled; Address of the proposed project; Status of project; Deferral date; Hearing result; Application numbers; Zoning district; Contact information; Appeal type; and Date of submission.
For example a quick search of recent hearing results in Eastie showed three projects that were recently approved by the ZBA.
On January 13,2020 the ZBA approved projects on London, Porter and Whitby Streets.
For the project on 185 London Street the ZBA approved plans to repair the foundation within the home’s setback, add a penthouse, increase the floor area ratio, renovate the interior and exterior including the roof, siding and decks.
For the project at 97 Porter Street the ZBA approved plans to combine five lots and create one 17,030 square foot lot to erect new residential dwelling units with parking.
The project at 16 Whitby Street, which was approved by the ZBA on the same day as the other two projects, calls for combining two lots and erecting a four story building with ten residential units, a gym on the first floor and 13 parking spaces.
There are also dozens of other development projects in various stages of the community and/or ZBA process in Eastie according to the new tracker tool.
“This newly developed tool will further Mayor Walsh’s commitment to increase transparency to department processes and community development,” said Inspectional Services Commissioner Dion Irish. “ISD will continue to create digital tools that will provide real time information related to permits.” All permits issued after January 1, 2021 will display a QR Code which will allow passersby to access detailed information of the property in question on their smartphone.