Proposed Code

Help us reinvent zoning in Somerville

Somerville is rewriting it’s Zoning Ordinance from the ground up. Your feedback is needed to ensure this new ordinance reflects our community values while being the clearest, most predictable, and user-friendly zoning in the United States.

This page features the current ‘discussion draft’ of the new Somerville Zoning Ordinance. Like a beta release of computer software, this document will be updated and improved prior to formal submittal to the Board of Aldermen later this year. A change log and previous drafts will always remain at the bottom of this page to keep you updated. We hope you will join us to learn more about this document at one of our open house meetings over the course of this summer.

To find out what district your property is located in under this new proposal, follow the Zoning Atlas link in the table below or select Zoning Maps under Proposed Code in the menu bar above.

Three articles of the discussion draft are marked as Coming Soon. These include Article 7: Special Districts (eg. Tuft’s University and the Powerhouse School Redevelopment), Article 8: Overlay Districts (eg. Union Square and Boynton Yards), and Article 11: Public Realm (eg. Civic Spaces and Thoroughfare Design). We are currently working to reformat these Articles and they should be released shortly. The current link for Article 8: Overlay Districts (below) includes a short description and map of each overlay district.

Article 2: Overview & Guide explains how the ‘building type’ based system of the proposed Ordinance functions, describes each line item from the building type tables, provides instruction for how to measure each requirement, and includes other standards and reference information. We anticipate that Article 2 will also include an explanation on how to navigate the Ordinance and how read the various tables included throughout. As we continue to work with you over the summer, we will add content to this section in an effort make this document more readable for all users.

What about the 2015 version?

In 2015, we submitted a first draft of a rewritten Somerville Zoning Ordinance to the Board of Aldermen. Over the course of the public hearings, OSPCD received almost 900 comments, questions, and concerns about that draft. We reviewed every comment and incorporated that feedback into the current discussion draft posted below. The Board of Aldermen also requested series of technical studies about the proposal, which are all posted on this site.

Discussion Draft (Current)
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Zoning Atlas (updated 06/21/2017)
Article 1 – Introductory Provisions (updated 06/21/2017) 69 KB
Article 2 – Overview & Guide  (Updated 06/22/2017) 296 KB
__Standards & Measurements
Article 3 – Residential Districts (updated 06/21/2017) 4 MB
__3.1 – Neighborhood Residential
__3.2 – Urban Residential
Article 4 – Mid-Rise Districts (updated 06/21/2017) 6 MB
__4.1 – Mid-Ride 3
__4.2 – Mid-Rise 4
__4.3 – Mid-Rise 5
__4.4 – Mid-Rise 6
Article 5 – High-Rise Districts (updated 06/21/2017) 2 MB
Article 6 – Commercial Districts (updated 06/21/2017) 3 MB
__6.1 – Fabrication
__6.2 – Commercial Core
__6.3 – Commercial Industry
__6.4 – Commercial Business
Article 7 – Special Districts (Coming Soon)
Article 8 – Overlay Districts (Coming Soon)
Article 9 – Use Provisions (updated 06/21/2017) 342 KB
Article 10 – Site Development (updated 06/21/2017) 726 KB
Article 11 – Public Realm (Coming Soon)
Article 12 – Parking & Mobility (updated 06/24/2017) 380 KB
Article 13 – Development Benefits (updated 06/21/2017) 95 KB
Article 14 – Nonconformance (updated 06/21/2017) 52 KB
Article 15 – Administration (updated 06/21/2017) 234 KB
Article 16 – Definitions (updated 06/21/2017) 84 KB
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Change Log
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06/24/2017 – Partial version of Article 12 released (Shared Parking still in progress)
06/22/2017 – Partial version of Article 2 released (Standards & Measurements only)
06/21/2017 – Temporary PDFs for Articles 7 and 8 uploaded
06/21/2017 – Articles 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, 14, and 15 released. Article 16 updated.
06/21/2017 – Zoning Atlas released
06/16/2017 – Article 16 of the Discussion Draft released
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Previous Drafts (Archive Only)
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 Article 16 – Definitions 06/16/2017 (out of date) 84KB