Councilors seek to eliminate zoning provision that technically makes art galleries illegal on Newbury Street

City councilors began work today on a zoning change that would allow art galleries to open in areas such as Newbury Street, where, technically, they are currently prohibited.

City Councilor Josh Zakim (Back Bay) said he was amazed to learn recently that ISD rejected a request by Pucker Gallery, 171 Newbury St., to move to 240 Newbury St. because of the prohibition.

The gallery must now go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance, which could cost the gallery thousands of dollars and delay the move by months in order to schedule a hearing at which to try to convince board members why it would otherwise suffer a horrible hardship, he said.

Zakim and at-large Councilor Ayanna Pressley says that's just nuts in a city that likes to think it has an international reputation for the arts.

The gallery has to move because its building was recently sold.

Other councilors agreed on their proposal for a public hearing to allow art galleries "of right" in commercial and industrial districts where they are now technically prohibited. Art galleries are allowed in these zones in Roxbury, Allston-Brighton, along Dorchester Avenue, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Mission Hill, the South End, Roslindale, the Fenway, and certain specific parts of the Back Bay and downtown - just not Newbury Street - according to their hearing request.

Their proposal also calls for making art galleries a "conditional" use in areas zoned for apartments and similar residential uses. Conditional uses require zoning-board hearings, but do not present as severe impediments to approval as forbidden uses.

At-large Councilor Michael Flaherty supported the basic idea, but said he is concerned the proposal not be a back door to allow art galleries into South Boston's Marine Industrial Park. Art and a working port terminal just wouldn't mix, he said, adding he wouldn't want to see anything jeopardize the 5,000 marine-related jobs he said the industrial park now supports.



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PDF icon Hearing request by Pressley and Zakim158.39 KB


Zoning jumped the shark long ago

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Gosh, we need zoning to protect us from the dangers of ART GALLERIES in our cities!!!

Oh wait, no.

How about this proposal: end the ridiculous, regulatory overreach that zoning has become. Zoning was originally created to protect citizens from dangerous industry, not from art galleries. Instead, the Zoning Board has morphed into the Central Planning Bureau from Hell, trying to dictate how people live from on-high with little to no accountability. Abundant evidence has accumulated over the decades showing that American-style zoning is mostly a tool for segregationists to practice their dark art, and for snobs to discriminate against anyone not like them.

The end result of zoning is the destruction of neighborhood diversity and the conversion of cities into a series of desolate, single-use zones with endless traffic problems. In other words, the 20th century American city.

Instead of defaulting to "No" with a list of "allowed uses", default to "Yes" and have a list of "disallowed uses" that each have a proper justification behind them. The cowards like Flaherty who want to ban something can show up at a public hearing and make their case in the full view of the public eye.

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Same ISD that enforces housing codes?

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The city agency charged with protecting citizens against slumlords doesn't have the time to do that job. But it does have the time to stop an art gallery that adds tremendous value to Newbury St.

It's interesting that near or following the end of the former's mayor's several terms that tremendous gaps in the city government's responsibilities are showing up. There is the alleged gross illegal behavior of Boston Cab and now it turns out that landlords who are particularly focused on renting to students turn out to be slumlords whose actions have included the death of a student.

Of course there is also the rubber stamp BRA which belongs to developers.

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There are

beautiful people affected by unnecessary zoning codes and there is the rest of you box store shopping surfs.

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At-large Councilor Michael

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At-large Councilor Michael Flaherty supported the basic idea, but said he is concerned the proposal not be a back door to allow art galleries into South Boston's Marine Industrial Park.

I swear to God, Flaherty wasn't this idiotic in his first run around. Between this and the beefed up residential requirements, it's like he got hit in the head or abducted by pod people.

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