The Cambridge Zoning Ordinance is the municipal legal framework that regulates urban development in the city. It is complementary to other city ordinances as well as state laws and codes related to building and development.

About Zoning in Cambridge

The Zoning Ordinance establishes regulations for how sites can be used (such as residential, commercial, industrial), the size and scale of buildings, the amount of parking required, and other aspects of urban design and development throughout the city. The regulations for a given site depend on the zoning district(s) in which that site is located.

In some cases, the Zoning Ordinance may require that development projects receive a special permit, either from the Board of Zoning Appeal or from the Planning Board. A proposed project that does not comply with all zoning regulations may seek a zoning variance, which may only be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeal.

The Zoning Ordinance has two major parts: A set of zoning maps that illustrate how the city is divided into different districts, and a set of text articles describing the regulations that apply in each district. Municipal zoning ordinances are governed by Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws.

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