The Boston Redevelopment Authority is looking to change a state law designed to protect public access to waterfront buildings to allow the installation of childcare facilities on the ground floor of new waterfront developments.
Massachusetts’s Chapter 91 encourages the leasing of ground-level buildings located within 250 feet of the waterfront to restaurants, shops and other businesses that would be open to the public, according to a Boston Business Journal article. That requirement makes it difficult for developers to get state approval for projects that feature daycare services on the ground level, which could serve employees in that building.
The BRA’s director for waterfront planning, Richard McGuinness, reportedly testified on the matter before the state legislature earlier this month.
But others say daycare uses are already allowed in ground-level waterfront sites, after a complete review by the Department of Environmental Protection, and that changing the state law could encourage future developers to push for additional uses that would further limit public access, the BBJ reported.
The city will kick off its latest round of waterfront development planning with a series of public meetings and tours in mid-March.
This newest planning process, which is expected to last 18 months to two years, involves the redevelopment of the Downtown Waterfront area, from Long Wharf down to the Evelyn Moakley Bridge (Seaport Boulevard) and the James Hook & Co. lobster business, said Chris Busch, waterfront planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
“The events in March are sort of a kick-off, an introduction and orientation,” Busch said. “Then we’ll get into monthly meetings to develop the municipal harbor plan specific to the downtown waterfront area between Long Wharf and Hook Lobsters.”
Over the past 20 years, the city has developed a number of municipal harbor plans for areas including East Boston, Charlestown, South Boston and Fort Point, Busch said. The most recent plan was done in 2009 for about 100 acres on the South Boston side of the Fort Point Channel.