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A Housing Development, Two Zoning Regs, and Why Building in Boston Is Hard

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A Housing Development, Two Zoning Regs, and Why Building in Boston Is Hard

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor October 22, 2019
View of Boston city skyline from the water
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

A proposed housing project on the border of Boston and neighboring Brookline sharply illustrates a reason for the area’s high housing costs. The proposal, on the site of a closed nursing home, would be situated on eight-tenths of an acre subject to zoning rules of two communities.
The plan calls for a four-story building, with 35 apartments on the Boston side, and two single-family homes in Brookline. The surrounding Brookline neighborhood is zoned for single-family homes, and architectural images show three-story houses
 with sloping roofs and sizable front yards to buffer the project from Brookline’s nearby residences.
The location is a short walk from public transit, making it ideal for more residential development, which is desperately needed if the Boston region is to build enough housing to counteract a region-wide shortage. Yet, Brookline’s zoning rules restrict the potential for the property to maximize this potential.

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