The Boston Globe | By Andrew Ryan
January 6, 2017
South Boston rarely takes kindly to change, no matter how well-intentioned. Think about the short-lived wine bar off Perkins Square, or the fleeting attempt to adopt one-way streets.
But City Hall recently adopted a major change that even hidebound residents might embrace: new zoning regulations that will impact virtually the entire neighborhood, from the yuppies on A Street to the senior citizens in City Point.
The rules are an attempt to restore order to a booming neighborhood that can feel like a giant construction site, and a sense of fairness to a development and permitting process often shaped by influence and special exemptions.
Proponents hope the code changes, which took effect last month, will bring a steep decline in variances granted by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and the community meetings, politically connected consultants, and development lawyers that usually come with them.
Sharply curbing variances, which are exceptions to the zoning code, would also eliminate a bureaucratic bottleneck in the permitting process that, as the Globe has reported, can be exploited by developers, civic associations, neighbors, and organized labor.
“All of that will be diminished,” said City Councilor Bill Linehan, who helped spearhead the two-year reform effort, which included a dozen community meetings. “It will be a much more even playing field for all neighbors and all residents … The amount of time and energy that government and the community had to spend regulating property development was absurd.”