Boston, MA, Zoning Code

Updated January 2020

By: Boston Redevelopment Authority, City of Boston

Table of Contents

Green Building

The city’s zoning code outlines green building requirements for developments that are subject to a large project review. Criteria for this review vary according to whether located within downtown, neighborhoods, or Harborpark (§80-B2). The city’s green building policy requires Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for any development that is subject to a large project review (§37-4). Four required LEED points can be obtained from a list of Boston Green Building Credits (Appendix A to Article 37). 

Hazard Mitigation

The city’s zoning code establishes the Harborpark District to protect people and structures from rising sea levels and coastal storms (§42A). District standards require structures to be set back from the high-tide line and designate open space subdistricts.

Urban Agriculture

The city’s zoning code establishes regulations and standards for urban agriculture activities within the city (Article 89). The code provides an extensive list of definitions and development and use standards for ground-level urban farms (§89-4) and roof-level urban farms (§89-5). Standards address uses, maximum heights, setbacks, design review, and signage. Larger farms, or those in residential districts, require a stricter standard of review, including comprehensive farm review or conditional use approval; the code details comprehensive farm review criteria (§89-6).

This article also addresses composting (§89-8), accessory keeping of hens (§89-9), accessory keeping of honeybees (§89-10), aquaculture/aquaponics (§89-11), and farmers markets and farm stands (§89-12).

Boston, MA

2010 Population: 617,594

2010 Population Density: 12,792.72/square mile