Boston Land Use

Boston prides itself on being a place of both history and innovation; a compact, walkable city with distinct neighborhoods and a highly engaged citizenry. Partly for these reasons, the City of Boston has perhaps the most rigorous and multi-layered public approval process for new development of any major city in the U.S., administered by highly professional public agency staff and board members.

The Development, Land Use and Zoning Group at Goulston & Storrs has a substantial presence in this arena, with unparalleled depth in guiding Boston development projects through the public approval process. Our experience has followed Boston’s growth as it spreads from the downtown core and mixed-use districts like the Seaport, the Back Bay, the Longwood Medical Area and the Fenway to outlying neighborhoods. We have guided Boston projects of every type and scale for non-profit, for-profit and public agency proponents through impact and design reviews, zoning approval and other municipal, state and federal approvals.

We are especially familiar with regulatory programs unique to the City of Boston. We have taken countless projects through Large Project Review under Article 80B of the Boston Zoning Code, including related reviews concerning urban design, climate resilience, accessibility and LEED performance. We have negotiated mitigation agreements concerning linkage, inclusionary development and other public benefits. We are familiar with the role of Impact Advisory Groups in the often-intensive community review process in every Boston neighborhood.

We have extensive experience with Boston zoning approvals, and with special zoning mechanisms. We have achieved Planned Development Area approval for dozens of large-scale projects and have guided many Boston hospitals and universities through Institutional Master Plan approval. We are also familiar with Boston’s Urban Renewal program and with Urban Renewal Subdistricts. Our experience extends to more granular approvals for improvements to public ways, groundwater recharge, building code variances and parking freeze permits.

We appear regularly before the Boston Planning and Development Agency Board, the Boston Zoning Commission, the Board of Appeal, the Public Improvement Commission, the Boston Landmarks Commission and other municipal bodies. We have earned the respect of board members and agency staff alike for our thorough preparation, respectful approach to problem-solving and understanding of the planning and policy context of approval decisions.