City council: Developers should have to study community impact before building

BOSTON — Developers may soon have another hurdle to jump over before getting the green light to build in Boston.

The City of Boston is in a building boom, with roughly 20,000 apartment units under construction in the metro area. CBRE, the largest full-service real estate services company in New England predicts nearly 12,000 new apartments will open this year.

"The rule in which we plan and how we design our city needs to make sure that civil rights is part of the conversation," said Boston city councilor Lydia Edwards.

The Boston City Council is considering an amendment to the city's zoning rules that would require large-scale developers to study the civil rights impact their project would have on the neighborhood it builds in, factoring in things like displacement, accessibility, and ethnic make-up.

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"They're analyzing their traffic, they're analyzing how green they are, they're analyzing all the different ways they're impacting our community. Sunlight. Air quality. Everything. So we're saying civil rights also belongs in that conversation," said Edwards.

Boston 25 News has been following the housing crisis in our Priced Out series.

A viewer in the Neponset/Point Norfolk neighborhood in Dorchester wrote to us about the two-year-long battle between residents and City Point Capitol. They're looking to build a mixed-use development with 150 condos and boutique hotel on nearly eight acres of the waterfront property.

"The area is already overdeveloped with no parking and many low-income residents have already been displaced," they said.

Amendment sponsor Lydia Edwards uses another example.

"It focuses on large-scale developments because they present our greatest opportunities and in at least one instance, the Seaport, our greatest failure," Edwards said.

Developer advocates NAIOP Massachusetts was not available for comment but have opposed barriers to construction based on increasing building costs and fear of economic loss to the region.

Five other councilors added their names to the zoning proposal at Wednesday's city council meeting.

>> Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes has covered this topic extensively. See her previous reports: 

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