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Zoning / Land Use in Boston

Land use and zoning involves the regulation of the use and development of real estate. The basic function of zoning is to divide a municipality into residential, commercial, and industrial districts (or zones). Within these three main types of districts there generally will be additional restrictions that can be quite detailed -- including specific requirements as to the type of buildings allowed, location of utility lines, etc. Also, some places are zoned as historical areas, and it is necessary to adhere to specific architectural requirements.

Since land-use and zoning regulations restrict the rights of owners to use their property as they otherwise could (and often want to), they are at times controversial and countless sorts of litigation ensues. A Boston Real Estate lawyer will be the best person to talk to when such litigation is looming.

Recently in Zoning / Land Use in Boston:

Are Micro-Apartments Legal?

When it comes to getting priced out, Bostonians are feeling the heat. Greater Boston is experiencing a staggering housing shortage -- currently, an estimated 25,000 units expected to balloon to 46,000 units, Curbed reports.

Other housing-starved cities like New York and San Francisco are turning to micro-apartments as an urban planning solution to skyrocketing housing prices. Boston is warming up to the idea of micro-apartments, albeit slowly and skeptically.

But are micro-apartments legal in Boston?

What Are CC&Rs?

When you move into a condo or housing development, you will often be asked to sign a catch-all deed of declarations called "Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions" (CC&Rs).

But what exactly are CC&Rs?

What is Massachusetts Chapter 40B?

What is Massachusetts' Chapter 40B? Under Massachusetts' Comprehensive Permit Act, Chapter 40B was a section enacted in 1969 in order to address the shortage of affordable housing developments in the state.

While this may sound like a great provision, Chapter 40B has raised some questions and even complaints from residents in various communities around Massachusetts -- many of which are attempting to enforce changes, North Andover Patch reports.

What does the law mean, exactly? Also, what are these changes residents are pushing for? Here's a general overview:

Cambridge Residents Contesting Plans for Sullivan Courthouse

A former courthouse in Cambridge is at the center of a controversy. Redevelopment plans for the now-closed Edward J. Sullivan Courthouse are being hotly contested by community groups as the state selected Leggat McCall Properties for the building's planned conversion, reports The Boston Business Journal.

The courthouse is state-owned property. As state property, contractors must bid to perform construction or redevelopment work on the property.

The Division of Capital Asset Management has been in charge of this process. Out of three reported finalists, the Division chose Leggat McCall.

Boston Seaport Revitalizes as Divco Buys 4 Buildings

Boston’s commercial real estate industry is going through a new boom. The Seaport District is certainly benefiting from this boom, as The Wall Street Journal reports that the revitalization of the Seaport District is starting to take shape.

According to the WSJ, Divco Real Estate Services LLC recently purchased four buildings in the Seaport District, for a total of $107 million. That’s a huge investment and no doubt will contribute to the gentrification of the area. The buildings include a former wool warehouse from the 1800s, a remnant of Boston’s textile days.

What’s especially promising is that the price tag on the recent purchase by Divco is 17% more than what the last buyer paid for the same building at the peak of the housing bubble.

Aerosmith Performs Outside Their Old Digs in Allston

This week, Allston's most famous property is 1325 Commonwealth Avenue.

Aerosmith performed a free concert outside the building on Monday afternoon. The concert was a tribute to the building where the band got its start, reports

Steve Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton apparently lived in the building, back in the 1970's. They are believed to have lived in apartment 31. The third floor apartment is now inhabited by young people, which the landlord says are most likely young professionals or grad students.

Colonial Theatre Could Open Oct 24 With Show for Elizabeth Warren

Boston’s Colonial Theatre is talking about reopening its doors, reports The Boston Globe.

According to Josiah A. Spaulding Jr., Chief Executive Officer of the Citi Performing Arts Center, the Center has requested an entertainment license from the city, in order for the Theatre to resume business.

The Colonial Theatre was closed in July 2011 after negotiations between the theater’s owner and Broadway in Boston didn’t pan out, reports the Boston Herald.

Somerville Moves Forward With Union Square Redevelopment

Officials in Somerville originally threw out the idea of renewing the Union Square area. The redevelopment plans promised to renew the industrial scrap yards at Prospect Street and breathe new life into the area.

Now, the plans have been approved by the Somerville Redevelopment Authority, reports Wicked Local Somerville.

Cambridge's Dilemma: Even Six Figure Incomes Can't Afford Rent

Rentals in Cambridge are pricey. But will Cambridge open its doors to middle-income housing anytime soon?

It's hard to say, especially since "middle-income" in Cambridge means $80,000 to $117,000.

With the redevelopment in Central Square, local residents are voicing their concerns over the need for cheaper housing in Cambridge, reports the Gatehouse News Service.

Splash Ultra Lounge Closed For Permit and Occupancy Violations

If you’re operating a restaurant, night club or entertainment venue, be mindful of zoning and permitting restrictions. You might have to close your doors if you don’t comply with Boston zoning and permit rules.

A local lounge learned its lesson this weekend, when it had to close up shop after being cited by city officials for being in violation of licensing laws.

Splash Ultra Lounge was on the hook for being over capacity and for serving alcohol to minors, reports The Boston Globe.