Beacon Hill Civic Association Community Corner

BHCA Committee Work

Each year, the Beacon Hill Civic Association publishes its Annual Report covering committee accomplishments during the past year. We’ll be sharing the committees’ reports here over the next weeks.

Zoning & Licensing Committee

The Zoning and Licensing Committee (“ZLC”) meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. to hear from applicants seeking either zoning relief (variances or conditional use permits) from the Zoning Board of Appeal (“ZBA”) or new/modified common victual (“CV”) or alcoholic beverage licenses from the Boston Licensing Board (“Licensing Board”).  All meetings continued to be held virtually this past year.

The ZLC provides a forum for community input into such applications. Applicants for zoning relief are asked to appear at a ZLC meeting where they are given the opportunity to describe their projects and rationales for the requested relief. Local restaurants, innkeepers, and merchants are similarly invited to present their licensing requests. The ZLC notifies abutters in advance and encourages both abutters and any other interested neighbors to attend and contribute to ZLC discussions. The ZLC takes into consideration all community input, including concerns from affected neighbors, as well as the BHCA’s overall desire to protect and improve the quality of life for Beacon Hill residents. It also considers the BHCA’s commitment to maintaining active streetscapes and supporting neighborhood-oriented retail and service businesses on Charles and Cambridge Streets which are designated by the Zoning Code as ‘Local Business’ districts. After meeting with applicants, the ZLC makes recommendations to the BHCA’s Board of Directors to either oppose or not oppose each application. The BHCA Board then conveys its positions to the ZBA or the Licensing Board so that community views are considered in the City’s zoning and licensing decisions.

The ZLC remained active during the past year.  From May 2021 through April 2022, the ZLC considered a total 11 proposals, the same number as in each of the past two years.  The total this year consisted of 6 commercial and 5 residential applications, which was the same mix as the prior year.  

On the commercial side, the relief involved 3 requests for changes to or transfer of liquor licenses, 2 new Common Victual aka “CV” licenses, and 1 conditional-use permit on Charles Street. 

The residential relief was more varied this year.  There was only 1 applicant seeking relief for excessive Floor Area Ratio (“FAR”).  There were 3 seeking relief for insufficient rear or side yard setback; 1 for Usable Open Space Insufficient; and 1 for Building Height Excessive. Only 1 applicant appeared more than once during the past year, largely due to the ZLC Chairs’ efforts to prepare applicants in advance for more efficient/effective presentations. 

Of the 11 proposals considered, the ZLC voted not to oppose 8, in some cases with a ‘Good Neighbor Agreement’ to be negotiated with the applicant. With opposition from abutters and other ZLC concerns, 2 proposals, a liquor license and a deck, were opposed.  One commercial applicant withdrew their application.

Overall, we consider the ZLC to have had both an active and productive past year.  

Tom Clemens, Co-Chair

Katherine Judge, Co-Chair

Save the Dates for a BHCA Centennial Celebration Weekend!

Make plans to join your friends and neighbors for a special weekend! We will be celebrating our Centennial on Saturday, September 17th, 6-9pm, with an outdoor dinner on the flat of Mt. Vernon Street. Tickets will go on sale later in the summer. On Sunday, September 18th, we will celebrate with our annual Fall HillFest, open to all, with games and food for children and their families, the famous dog show, live entertainment, and much more.

Upcoming BHCA Meetings & Events

Board of Directors – Monday, July 11th, 7pm, via Zoom*

Architecture Committee – Monday July 18th, time TBD, via Zoom*

Outdoor Centennial Dinner – Saturday, September 17th, 6:00pm

Fall HillFest – Sunday, September 18th, 12:00-4:00pm

* Contact the office for joining details.

Become a BHCA member or renew your membership in our Centennial Year!

This is a great time to join the BHCA or renew your membership now that we are scheduling outdoor centennial activities for the summer and fall. Go to to sign up or renew today, or call us at 617-227-1922.

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