Hood Zoning Amendment on Height Moves to Zoning Commission

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) has moved a zoning text amendment that deals with allowing taller buildings at Hood Park from their Board to a public hearing at the Zoning Commission – the last step before it could possibly become law.

After a March 12 meeting in which the community almost unanimously opposed the idea of allowing a zoning amendment that could bring conversations about taller buildings at Hood Park (the developer currently cannot even propose anything taller than 115 feet), the Board on March 15 moved the matter to the Zoning Commission.

The Zoning Commission will hold a hearing on the matter April 11 at 9 a.m. in Boston City Hall, Room 900.

The Zoning Commission is the final stop for most zoning amendments, as the Board of the BPDA can only make a recommendation.

In paperwork submitted to the Board for its March 15 meeting, the zoning text amendment for Hood was recommended.

“This would allow BPDA and other City agencies to control the size and scale of any Proposed Project within (Hood) where greater height is appropriate, and without being limited by what may be construed as an inappropriate height limitation on Planned Development Area (PDA) development in all…of Charlestown. Based on the foregoing, the BPDA staff recommends that the Board approve the recommended text amendment…,” read a letter to the Board before its meeting.

“This process is just beginning not ending,” said State Rep. Dan Ryan. “Unfortunately, there was a well-attended neighborhood meeting of the Boston City Council that conflicted with the standing BPDA board meeting (on March 15). It would have been nice to have Charlestown voices of concern at that BPDA hearing, but there weren’t. It’s not the end of the world. I have been working with the BPDA and the Walsh administration for four years to bring Charlestown up to speed in these processes. We are getting better and as a community have shared recent small victories because we have more voices at the table than ever before. Culture change takes time. Many of these projects that are coming on line are ghosts of our haunted past. Hood was approved 20 years ago. We have an opportunity to take a fresh look at it with true community participation. I implore the neighborhood to get involved.”

The zoning amendment, to be clear, does not allow any projects above 115 feet by right, nor are there any projects proposed that are more than 115 feet. However, as the zoning currently stands, Hood cannot even propose anything above 115 feet, nor can they even discuss a proposal.

The zoning amendment would allow them to come to the community and talk about taller buildings.

Previously, representatives for Hood have said they would like to have the ability to discuss buildings as tall as 300 feet on the site. Nothing, however, has been proposed that is that height.

•In other Hood news, the BPDA Board approved the Hood Park Garage project at its Board meeting on Thursday, March 15.

The project will provide 905 parking spaces for Hood Park with 24,000 sq. ft. of retail space, likely for a restaurant, and 50,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space. The five-level garage will also have 50 solar Electric Vehicle chargers and 40 bicycle storage spaces.

The garage component of the project is designed as a flat plate structure with exterior permeability to comply with open air ventilation type garage requirements. The floor to floor heights in the garage are approximately thirteen feet, which in combination with the flat plate system will allow for future conversion to office space or other non-parking uses should demand for parking decline sufficiently in the future.

The project will include the creation of new sidewalks, street lighting, and landscape, and will employ energy and water efficient features for mechanical, electrical, architectural, and structural systems, assemblies, and materials, where feasible. Sustainable design elements relating to building energy management systems, lighting, recycling, and conservation measures will also be incorporated. The project will also contribute $20,000 to the Parks and Recreation Department to support local open space.

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