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Online tool to help business owners navigate zoning regulations

June 11, 2015

Inspectional Services Department

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Inspectional Services

Boston Zoning Check allows business owners to see where specific uses are allowed by the zoning code.

BOSTON - Thursday, June 11, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today the release of a new tool to to help residents navigate Boston’s zoning code. The new tool, Boston Zoning Check allows business owners to see where specific uses are allowed by the zoning code. The zoning code is currently three volumes and over 3,000 pages long. By answering a few questions, users can make an initial determination regarding where in the City they are permitted to open a new business or expand an existing one.

The Mayor made the announcement at Thursday’s roundtable discussion on streamlining small business and startup services with U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

“We should be encouraging our residents with great ideas to focus on building their businesses, not being burdened with understanding municipal code” says Mayor Walsh.  “This new tool will help make the process of starting a business in the City one step easier.”

This new tool is part of series of actions Mayor Walsh has taken to ease the pathway for small businesses in the City:

  • Created a streamlined Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) process for small businesses, doubled the hearing capacity for ZBA applications, which reduced wait times for ZBA hearings by four months.
  • Made common Fire Department permits available online.
  • Launched the Permit Finder application, which allows applicants to see where their permits are in the review process and connect to individuals responsible for each stage of review.
  • Announced zoning changes which will make low-impact uses (such as art galleries or bakeries) allowed across all business districts, and plans to reform entertainment licensing policies to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses.