The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board voted at its October meeting earlier this month to extend East Boston Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) an additional year in order to allow the PLAN: East Boston initiative to finish its community process and deliver its recommendations.
“The BPDA Board voted to extend the East Boston Originally established in 2018, the East Boston IPOD was set up to provide the proper balance between competing land uses, economic, and environmental factors in the community while the PLAN: East Boston study surveyed community members and outlined the vision for the future of the neighborhood,” the BPDA wrote in its decision.
The IPOD encompasses all of Eastie with the exception of Suffolk Downs and the Airport and effectively ended so called ‘as of right’ projects.
While the IPOD does not change current zoning it does send all projects above a defined threshold to the ZBA for approval.
When it was first launched in 2018 the city set this threshold at 1,000 sq. ft. For the past three years any resident or developer looking to erect a building or add an addition that is 1,000 sq. ft. or more has had to go through the same community process as larger development projects.
All the projects above the defined threshold have gone to the ZBA and subjected to the same process like abutters meetings, community group meetings and ZBA hearings.
While this new measure has not slowed development, it has put an end to ‘as of right’ projects that did not require ZBA approval.
Aside from erecting a structure that is 1,000 sq. ft. or more or adding an addition that is above the threshold, projects that alter or change the exterior of any building that is perceptively different were also subjected to the community and ZBA process.
The city and neighborhood is currently trying to create a new Master Plan and change some of the community’s outdated zoning.
With the PLAN: East Boston initiative entering the final stages, the IPOD extension will give a little extra protection to the community while new zoning for Eastie is figured out.
The IPOD has been just one step in adopting new zoning for the neighborhood. Once new zoning is adopted the IPOD will be retired.
The IPOD was part of the city directive PLAN: East Boston and Eastie was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that will be part of the BPDA’s planning initiative as part of an Imagine Boston 2030-guided effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.
The city has been working closely with Eastie community groups, community leaders and other stakeholders to ensure decisions made by the city are following the guiding principles of “preserves wisely, enhances equitably, and grows inclusively”.
As part of the initiative in Eastie a comprehensive planning will include a focus on balancing contextually sensitive development alongside preservation. There will also be a focus on supporting existing residents and businesses through increased access to opportunity, affordability strategies, and anti-displacement policies.