Findings & Recommendations | Methodology | Urban Wilds Analysis | Urban Wilds Council and Friends Groups
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1990 Report |
1976 Report |
The Urban Wilds of Boston- woods, meadows, wetlands, shorelines, rock outcrops and hilltops- 143 in all, were initially identified by the City of Boston Redevelopment Authority in a 1976 study as Unprotected natural areas of beauty and environmental significance. In 1990, in order to capture all the original 143 sites, several of which had morphed, BNAN introduced the following criteria for a site to be recognized s an Urban Wild:
The site should include any ONE feature to qualify as an Urban Wild
1. A Natural Heritage:
Habitats retaining significant amount of flora, fauna and/ or features of geographic importance”
2. A Historic heritage
History of location including development, land use, cultural, and natural history.
3. Public Benefit/ Use
Habitats for the use and enjoyment of people and/or neighborhoods.
1. Lost Urban Wilds
Wilds that have been so obliterated or so altered that any small pieces that are left clearly do not do what the original Wilds did for their neighborhood or for the City.
2. Protected Urban Wilds
Wilds secured in whole or in part. Site must meet ALL of the following criteria:
3. Unprotected Urban Wilds
Wilds that remain but that are susceptible to destruction, just as they were in 1976.
Wilds remaining in their original condition, with no development/ human impact.
Wilds that have been changed but not necessarily damaged.
Wilds that still can be recognized from their 1976 description, but development uses have chipped away at them.
Conservation District - Any area designated by the Boston Conservation Commission as an area containing any physical features or improvements or both that are of historical, social, cultural, architectural, or aesthetic significance to the city and cause such area to constitute a distinctive section of the city. (Boston, Mass.)
Conservation Restriction - A conservation restriction is a legally binding agreement between a landowner (grantor) and a holder (grantee) - usually a public agency or a private land trust; whereby the grantor agrees to limit the use of his/her property for the purpose of protecting certain conservation values. The conservation restriction may run for a period of years or in perpetuity and is recorded at the Registry of Deeds (it runs with the title). Certain income, estate or real estate tax benefits may be available to the grantor of a conservation restriction.
A CR is concerned with preserving the land in its natural state, and protecting its wildlife habitat, scenic views, forests and meadows, water quality, greenway connections, and other similar natural features. For an example of a CR, go to www.mass.gov/envir/dcs/restrictions/default.htm, and then click on the "Conservation Restriction Handbook" which contains further information and a sample CR. There can be extraordinary tax benefits for the donation or bargain sale of a perpetual CR. Care must be taken to follow the rules for the deductions, which are subject to change, and one should seek professional advice if the intention is to obtain the tax advantages.
Overlay Zoning District - Overlay districts are those, which co-exist with “true” zoning, districts by delineating them on top of the pre-existing districts. They are usually created to add specific regulations and restrictions based upon certain features or types of uses falling within their boundaries. Some common examples are: Floodplain areas, Historic Districts, Aquifer and Water Protection areas, Wireless Communication uses, etc. Generally, overlay district regulations supercede the restrictions of any underlying districts, though this is not always the case.
Interim Planning Overlay Districts (IPODs) – Temporary zoning regulations for an area where the Zoning Commission has determined that current zoning may be inappropriate or inadequate.
Lot, Lot Area – The area of a parcel of land in single ownership and not divided by a street.
Nonconforming Use – A use or activity which was lawful prior to the adoption or amendment of the Zoning Code, but which does not, because of such adoption or amendment, conform to the present requirements of the Zoning Code.
Variance – Permission to deviate from a specific requirement of the Zoning Code.
Greenway Planning Overlay District (GPODs) - Set of regulations that establish minimum set of design and zoning principles to encourage access and active use of a Greenway. E.g.: windows overlooking Greenway, Building height restrictions, Access via private property, etc.
Conservation Overlay District - The Conservation Overlay District is intended for property owners to initiate and implement programs for the revitalization or conservation of older areas or districts possessing distinctive features, identity, or character worthy of retention and enhancement. The overlay takes effect through adoption of a plan and a set of regulations that will facilitate maintenance and upgrading of the neighborhood and development of vacant or underused lots while reducing or eliminating incompatible mixes of uses.
Trail License - A license is a revocable written agreement between an owner and trail group that permits trail access. It is not permanent or binding on future landowners. A license can be a useful tool, superior to verbal and written permission, in that it can stipulate conditions of use and management agreements.
Trail Easement - A trail easement is a perpetual legal agreement that allows others to use someone’s land in the manner provided for within the easement. An easement can be very broad, granting access to the easement holder and the public, or it can restrict what kind of access, when and under what conditions access can be used. For instance, the easement can be for public access to an entire property, or it could be restricted to a certain users on a trail of a certain width. An easement can be for hiking only, or lake access, or bicycling, or hunting – whatever uses the parties agree to, limited or expanded to the extent they decide.