BHCA Zoning and Licensing Committee Reviews Policies

Members of the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) Zoning and Licensing Committee and the board of directors met Wednesday to discuss the organization’s and city’s policies, guidelines and trends that may influence decision-making in the future.

First on the agenda was a review of the committee’s guidelines, which were first drafted in 1975 and last amended 16 years later.

Tom Clemens, the committee’s co-chair, also urged its members to develop a comprehensive approach for the neighborhood. “What is our strategy for the Hill?” he asked. “Things are changing around us, are all of these policies relevant?”

One example of a change in lifestyle that affects committee policies is city-sanctioned licensing for the alcohol and food operations. While in years past, the committee might have asked a restaurant to enter into a “good neighbor” agreement with the Civic Association for a year or two before supporting their request for a wine and beer license, today, this policy is becoming more lenient as more people tend to enjoy a glass of wine while dining out.

The committee also made another recent change in its building policies by not offering its support for the construction of new head-houses or roof-decks, since this increase in the applicant’s livable space often blocked abutters’ views. Meanwhile, the city’s building code now states that roof-decks may no longer be accessed through hatches, but instead via a small head-house located at the top of the stairs on new or newly renovated roof-decks.

“It is especially important for neighbors to be involved in the process,” wrote Suzanne Besser, president of the Civic Association’s board of directors.  “The Walsh administration is very interested in how they feel about applications for zoning variances and licenses. The office of Neighborhood Services sponsors abutters meetings at the site, which are invaluable to getting a good sense of what the proposed project is about and why one or more variances are needed. “

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