Wu moves to install new crop of zoning board officials

Updated: Nov 1

By Saraya Wintersmith, GBH September 26, 2022


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday announced a sweeping round of appointments to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeal, a seven-member agency that inspects and reviews buildings for zoning compliance and regulates rules of construction in Boston.

Wu offered up a total of 13 nominees, three of whom are reappointments to the board. The nominees represent six primary board members and five alternates, who would appear at board meetings only in the place of absent primary members. The seventh seat is held by Kerry Logue, whose term expires in November.

The new nominees, if confirmed, will replace board members who have well overrun their three-year terms.

The move is likely to have far-reaching repercussions for development as the mayor attempts to make good on a campaign pledge to revamp Boston’s construction planning and approval process by abolishing the Boston Planning and Development Agency and replacing it with a planning agency.

Even though the zoning board is separate from the BPDA, the two agencies frequently interact. The seven-member board receives development recommendations from the BPDA as it weighs whether to grant exceptions to developers looking to build in defiance of existing zoning code.

According to Wu’s former campaign literature, overhauling the city’s development process begins with the zoning code.

While on the campaign trail, Wu released a detailed, 76-page plan for a BPDA replacement that called the agency as “an anachronism plagued by lack of transparency and misguided priorities.”

In a press release Monday morning, the Wu administration invoked the campaign language, asserting the city’s zoning code “has failed” to keep pace with Boston’s growth. It highlighted that the majority of development proposals need zoning relief, or zoning board–granted exceptions to the strict code of rules that govern the growth of the city’s building landscape. Wu said the new crop of board members will work closely with her new Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison to advance her administration’s goals.

“These appointees represent the diversity, talent, and expertise of our communities that will connect Boston’s growth to addressing our greatest challenges,” the mayor said. “This outstanding slate of community members will play a key role in Boston’s growth as we work to build more housing and address the regional affordability crisis, support equitable and resilient neighborhoods, and shift to planning-led development.”

The nominees will need to be confirmed by the City Council. After that, each could earn annual stipends of up to $24,000, according to the city.

Nominees here: At-Large Giovanni Valencia, West Roxbury (primary) Alaa Mukahaal, Mission Hill (alternate)

Neighborhood organizations Norm Stembridge, Roxbury (primary) Shavel’le Olivier, Mattapan (alternate) Sherry Dong, Dorchester (primary) David Aiken, East Boston (alternate)

Greater Boston Real Estate Board Jeanne Pinado, Jamaica Plain (primary) Katie Whewell, West End (alternate)

Boston Society of Architecture Hansy Better Barraza, Roslindale (primary) Thea Massouh, Brighton (alternate)

Building Trades Employers Association Raheem Shepard, Hyde Park (primary)

Building Trades Council Alan Langham, Dorchester (primary) Dave Collins, Roslindale (alternate)



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