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Boston Looks To Increase Regulation Of Life Sciences Development

A rendering of 10 World Trade, a forthcoming high-rise in Boston’s Seaport District with upper-level lab space.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency released its Life Sciences Action Agenda on Monday, setting a guide to regulate the life sciences development boom that's taken over the city.

The agenda will help to guide the agency, developers and the public with new design guidelines and zoning language, including laboratory use definitions and other potential changes, to continue the growth of the life sciences community in the city. 

“This action agenda lays out a proactive, transparent roadmap for how the BPDA will support growth of this sector, while ensuring we are addressing the health and safety needs of Bostonians,” BPDA Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison said in a statement. 

The BPDA said it will release a Life Sciences Guidelines draft for public review in the next three months and a draft zoning code in the next eight months. The agenda also was written to address unique problems and planning situations within different communities by integrating the planning of life sciences with existing and new processes.

The BPDA plans to partner with sister public agencies like the Boston Public Health Commission to better educate and communicate with the public on development happening in their neighborhoods.

Life sciences developments have seen a pushback from communities, the most recent being in September when a Fort Point lab was initially tabled due to safety concerns from residents adjacent to the proposed lab site, The Boston Globe reported.

Cambridge — which has an even higher concentration of lab projects — has also seen some pushback on its development surge. Two city councilors filed a proposal in September to limit lab development in or around Kendall Square, Alewife and Cambridgeport.

With the rapid growth of life sciences in Boston and Cambridge, developers have begun to branch out to other towns and cities in the state, but neighborhood groups in those areas are already wary of new activity, the Globe reported last month.