After a recent bribery scandal emerged involving a City of Boston employee, a local developer and a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that there will be a review of the city’s ZBA and its processes.
See press release below
Thursday, September 5, 2019 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced a comprehensive review of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) and related processes, in order to ensure that best practices, including strong internal protocols and policies, are in place to best serve applicants in a way that is transparent and accountable to the public. The review will draw upon expertise in all facets of zoning to review best practices in the field, and inform any opportunities moving forward for how to institute even stronger operational controls and accountability at the ZBA.
“Boston is a city that is booming with economic development, from new companies moving to our city and the creation of housing being at an all-time high-record,” said Mayor Walsh. “The pace of our growth is unparalleled to any other time in our city’s history, which is a tremendous economic boon for our city, but also brings its own set of challenges. Through this review, I want to make sure that our agencies and staff are best equipped with the knowledge, tools and training they need to do their jobs effectively and to the standard of which they are held.”
Mayor Walsh has asked Sullivan & Worcester LLP to conduct this comprehensive review beginning with the rules and regulations in place that dictate how the ZBA conducts business on behalf of the residents of Boston, and those with matters before the board.
“Since taking office, my Administration has worked to level the playing field in the development process in Boston, emphasizing transparency and ensuring broader access and input from the community,” said Mayor Walsh. “I recognize that there is always more work to be done to make the business of city government more accessible and transparent to everyone. I am hopeful that we will learn from the findings of this review how else we can better serve our constituencies and implement best practices used in the field.”
Since taking office in 2014, bringing transparency to every corner of City government has been a pillar of the Walsh Administration. In 2016, after hearing important feedback from the Boston community over the course of two years about the direction of Boston’s planning agency, Mayor Walsh launched an effort to overhaul the former Boston Redevelopment Authority’s identity. With the intent of better serving the people of Boston and inspiring greater trust and confidence in the city’s planning agency, the now Boston Planning & Development Agency reflects the Walsh Administration’s commitment to smart and sound urban planning and positive economic development.
Earlier this year, Mayor Walsh signed into law a municipal lobbying ordinance that requires lobbyists, lobbyist entities and lobbying clients to register with the Boston City Clerk, and file disclosure statements four times each calendar year. This ordinance brought transparency and accountability to municipal lobbying for the first time in Boston. Before this ordinance was signed into law, lobbyists were only required to register at the state level.
About the ZBA:
The ZBA is a seven-member entity that is charged with reviewing any development proposal that requires zoning relief. The Board hosts public meeting to hear requests for conditional use permits, zoning variances, and similar zoning relief and takes decisive action on each request.