Planning Board

Cambridge Planning Board

About the Planning Board

The Cambridge Planning Board reviews plans and proposals under the Special Permit provisions of the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance and Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws, proposes or reviews zoning amendments, makes recommendations to the City Council about proposed revisions to the Zoning Ordinance, and engages in general planning efforts to improve the physical environment of the City.

Planning Board process Discussion - Winter 2015

During the later part of 2014 CDD held a series of focus group discussions with various stakeholders involved in the Planning Board process. The focus group sessions, which followed an evening of public comment held at the Planning Board, enabled people to come together in an informal environment and cooperatively work together to discuss ways to improve the Planning Board process. Recommendations came to focus around five areas:

  • Improve web site design
  • Improve meeting logistics
  • Improve public notification and access to information
  • Improve understanding at all phase of the project
  • Strengthen CDD role
  • Establish an early community engagement process

The recommendations were discussed during City Council roundtable meeting attended by the Planning Board and CDD staff on January 12, 2015.  The following memo discusses the process the process used to collect recommendations and lays out the recommendations themselves in detail:

An initial discussion among Planning Board members on potential changes to Planning Board rules and community engagement guidelines is scheduled for the Planning Board meeting of May 26, 2015.

For more information contact Stuart Dash, Director of Community Planning, at 617/349-4640, or

Planning Board Membership

  • H Theodore Cohen, Chair
  • Catherine Preston Connolly, Vice Chair
  • Louis J. Bacci, Jr.
  • Steven A. Cohen
  • Mary T. Flynn
  • Hugh Russell
  • Tom Sieniewicz

One of the two Associate Members of the Cambridge Planning Board vote when one of the full members is absent or unable to vote.

  • Ahmed Nur
  • Thacher Tiffany

Planning Board Rules

The Cambridge Planning Board operates using the following rules.  Among other purposes, these rules outline the procedures for consideration of Special Permits and Zoning Petitions.

Planning Board Rules, adopted March 12, 2013

Planning Board Meetings

The Planning Board usually meets the first and third Tuesday of each month. Meetings are usually held in the Second Floor Meeting Room at 344 Broadway and begin at 7 P.M. The Planning Board meeting dates can be found on the Planning Board Agenda home page and the Citywide Calendar of Events. Please check the agenda for the time and location of particular meetings.


The Planning Board makes available an agenda several days in advance of each meeting. Hearing Notices are posted 2 weeks in advance of the hearing date. Agenda and hearing notices for the current calendar year are found below.


In place of meeting minutes, the Planning Board adopts transcripts of each meeting. Transcripts are usually available 4 weeks after the meeting. Transcripts for the current year are below. Prior transcripts (2009 - 2011) are found in the corresponding page listed to the left. Transcripts prior to 2009 are available by contacting Liza Paden at 617/349-4647 or

Scheduled Items

Note:  Listed items are tentative prior to posting of an official Agenda or Hearing Notice. Refer to the posted Agenda for a full list of scheduled items. The Planning Board will not necessarily take public comment on items not listed as "Hearing."

Date Agenda Transcripts Scheduled Items
January 6, 2015 Agenda  Transcript • PUD-KS Rezoning Initial Proposal (See Zoning Amendments for information)
January 20, 2015 Agenda Transcript • MBTA Presentation of Lechmere Station and Green Line Extension Plans
• Hearing - Amendment to Special Permit 175 Archstone North Point - Notice Second Hearing - Application Materials
• Hearing - Amendment to Special Permit 179 HYM North Point - Notice Second Hearing - Application Materials
January 27, 2015 Agenda Meeting Cancelled.
February 3, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Town Gown Reports and Presentations - Presentations and Public Comment

Location Change: Meeting to take place at Citywide Senior Center at 806 Massachusetts Avenue, across the street from City Hall
February 10, 2015 Agenda Meeting Cancelled.
February 17, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Special Permit PB #296 (57 JFK Street) - Notice - Application Materials
• PUD-KS Rezoning Continued Discussion (See Zoning Amendments for information)
• PUD Pre-Application Meeting - 85-139 First Street
February 24, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Normandy Twining Zoning Petition - Notice - Petition Materials
• Design Update - PB #141 South Plaza (Cambridge Research Park / Kendall Square) - Drawings
March 3, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Continued Hearing - Special Permit PB #294 (88 Ames Street) - Notice - Application Materials
March 10, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Foundry Disposition - Notice - Additional Information
• Town Gown Reports - Planning Board Discussion 
March 24, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Special Permit PB #297 (First Street PUD) - Notice - Application Materials
• Continued Deliberation - Special Permit PB #294 (88 Ames Street) - Application Materials
March 31, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Special Permit PB #295 (305 Webster Ave) - Notice - Application Materials
• Hearing - Amendment to Special Permit PB #243 (Alexandria Center - Parking Reduction) - Notice - Application Materials
April 7, 2015 Agenda Transcript • PUD-KS Rezoning Continued Discussion (See Zoning Amendments for information)
April 21, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Chestnut Hill Realty Zoning Petition (Basement Housing Overlay Revisions) - Notice - Petition Materials
April 28, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Continued Hearing - Normandy Twining Zoning Petition - Notice - Petition Materials
May 5, 2015 Agenda Transcript • PUD-KS Rezoning Continued Discussion (See Zoning Amendments for information)
May 19, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Special Permit PB #298 (950 Massachusetts Ave, Green Roof) - Notice - Application Materials
May 26, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Continued Hearing - Special Permit PB #295 (305 Webster Ave) - Notice - Application Materials
• Preliminary discussion on Planning Board rules and guidelines for community engagement (see above)
June 2, 2015 Agenda Transcript • Hearing - Carsharing Zoning Petition - Notice - Petition Materials
June 9, 2015 Agenda   • Walking tour of MIT Kendall Square area. No hearings will be held and no votes will be taken.
June 16, 2015 Agenda • Design Review - PB #293, 75 JFK Street, bicycle parking - Materials
• BZA Case Review, including 1350 Massachusetts Ave, Harvard Smith Campus Center (formerly Holyoke Center) - Materials from Harvard Square Advisory Committee
• Design Review - PB #175, 1-5 East Street (Avalon North Point) - Materials
June 29, 2015 Agenda • Hearing (Jointly held with Ordinance Committee, Sullivan Chamber, City Hall, 6:00 P.M.) - PUD-KS Rezoning Petition - Notice - Petition Materials
July 14, 2015 Agenda • Continued Deliberation - PUD-KS Rezoning Petition - Petition Materials
• Hearing - Special Permit PB #300, 16-18 Eliot Street - Notice - Application Materials
• Design Update - 100 Binney Street, PB #243 - Materials
July 21, 2015 Agenda • Continued Hearing - PB #296, 57 JFK Street - Notice - Materials
• Hearing - Incentive Zoning Amendments - Notice - Petition Materials
July 28, 2015 Agenda • Hearing - Special Permit PB #299, 2551 Massachusetts Ave - Notice - Application Materials
• Request for Minor Amendment (Phasing) - Special Permit PB #179, NorthPoint - Materials
August 4, 2015 Agenda • Discussion - Affordable Housing - PB Materials
• Discussion - Net Zero Task Force Recommendations - PB Materials - Additional Information
August 11, 2015 • Hearing - Walden/Sherman Rezoning Petition (Business A-4) - Notice - Petition Materials
• Hearing - Stern, et al. Rezoning Petition (Mass Ave / Richard Ave) - Notice - Petition Materials
August 18, 2015 • Hearing - Special Permit PB #301, 249 Third Street and Associated Special Permits Amending  PB #118, 195 Binney Street and PB #189, 303 Third Street - Notice - Application Materials
September 1, 2015
September 8, 2015
September 29, 2015
October 6, 2015
October 20, 2015
October 27, 2015
November 10, 2015
November 17, 2015
November 25, 2015
December 1, 2015
December 15, 2015

Prior Planning Board Agendas, Hearing Notices and Transcripts

Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance

The zoning amendments page lists all amendments to the Cambridge Zoning Ordinance currently under consideration by the City Council and Planning Board as well as those passed or placed on file (expired) since mid-2009.

Special Permits

The Planning Board is the Special Permit Granting Authority for those uses listed as "PB" in the Zoning Ordinance Article 4.000 - Use Regulations. The Planning Board conducts public hearings where applicants present proposals, public testimony is taken and findings are made as to the relief being sought.

Special Permit Pending Applications and Granted Permits

Follow this link to find all special permit applications, supporting documents, hearing notices, and decisions for all applications submitted since the beginning of 2011. For each application you will find information about the proposal, relevant zoning ordinance sections and supporting documentation.

All special permits granted but not built, under construction, or completed since the beginning of 2011 can be found on the Special Permits Interactive Map. Select a permit to learn more and find links to relevant documents.

Locations of all granted Planning Board special permits not later withdrawn are found on the Zoning Viewer maintained by the city's GIS staff.

Special Permit Application Form

Planning Board special permits require the completion of a multi-part application. Follow this link for more information.

Town Gown Reports

For information about and copies of the Town Gown Reports submitted by Cambridge College, Harvard University, Lesley University and MIT, see the Institutional Planning home page.

For More Information

For more information about the Planning Board contact Liza Paden at 617/349-4647 or