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Councilor Edwards Offers Zoning Board Amendment to Home Rule Petition

City Councilor Lydia Edwards (District 1) offered a revised draft of her home rule petition that was signed as an executive order by Mayor Marty Walsh in February 2020.

Although the signed executive order addressed many of Councilor Edwards’ concerns regarding the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), she identified four areas of contention that she addressed in a revised ordinance: the ZBA’s board members, term limits, conflict of interests, and standards for variance.

Under Councilor Edwards’ new filed bill, the zoning board would expand its board member seats to accommodate an environmental protection and climate change member and an urban planning member. Two three-year term limits would be introduced for board members. It would also disallow members with financial interest in a project going back five years of the date the appeal was filed from participating in the hearing.

Councilor Edwards stated the revised ordinance “balances the need for modernization along with the executive order” to create a “more equitable, transparent, fair process.”

With the executive order, individuals will soon be able to file their appeals, follow a specific project’s progress, and be notified of deferrals electronically. The new legislature would require the ZBA to also provide quarterly reports on all variances given out per neighborhood and provide the public with the results of all meetings.