Walsh Makes Changes to ZBA

The biggest complaint among developers of residential and small business development in East Boston has been the red tape one has to navigate in order to get a project off the ground.

After fulfilling the community process through neighborhood or abutters meetings, a developer may still need to wait months before getting a Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

Mayor Martin Walsh hopes to change that by creating a specialized ZBA to deal with small business and small residential development.

Fulfilling a commitment made in his 101 Days Report, Walsh announced the creation of streamlined ZBA process for small businesses and 1-2 family owner-occupied residential applications.

A subcommittee of the ZBA will meet biweekly on Thursday nights to hear zoning relief requests from small businesses and smaller residential projects. The move will aid small businesses and homeowners making renovations to their properties, by separating smaller projects from major developments.

“Small businesses should not have to wait along major development to have their zoning relief requests heard,” said Walsh. “This move will provide immediate relief, while we continue to pursue more fundamental regulatory reforms and zoning updates.”

The first hearing of the ZBA Small Business and Owner-Occupied Residential Subcommittee will be September 11, 2014. Staff is currently examining ZBA cases scheduled for September, October and November, and contacting applicants eligible for the streamlined process.

“This change will allow one and two family homeowners and small business to request zoning relief without having to take time out of the weekday schedule to do so,” said William Christopher, commissioner of Inspectional Services. “This is just one more promise that the mayor made that his delivering.”

Applicants interested in having their appeal heard through the subcommittee should contact 617-635-5300.

This reform is the latest improvement to Boston’s permitting and licensing system, led by Walsh’s interagency permitting team, which has been meeting regularly since February to improve the process, technology and tracking of permit applications citywide.

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