scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Fight over shadows, Boston development returns

Developers, realtors, and neighborhood group members from Boston and Cambridge brought their fight over shadow restrictions for buildings constructed near parks back to Beacon Hill on Thursday.

Realtors and developers told Environment Committee members that a bill regulating construction of buildings that cast shadows on certain public parks would halt nearly all new development in the Back Bay, South End, and other parts of the city.

Shadow restrictions would mean lost construction jobs, housing, and revenue, said ­Patricia Baumer, director of government affairs at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.

The legislation, filed by Representative Byron Rushing, Democrat of Boston, would ­expand protections passed in the early 1990s for the Boston Common and the Public Garden to six more public spaces: the Esplanade, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Copley Square Park, Back Bay Fens, Christopher Columbus Park in the North End, and Magazine Beach Park in Cambrideport.


It prohibits construction of buildings that do not comply with local zoning laws, preventing them from casting new shadows on the parks the first hour after sunrise or before 7 a.m. and in the last hour before sunset. Buildings that comply with zoning laws could cast new shadows without restriction, said an aide in Rushing.

Similar legislation was sent to be studied last session, preventing floor debates.

Boston residents who want shadow restrictions said it would preserve the city’s economic vitality by protecting parks and public spaces.

Howard Kassler of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay said it does not make sense to allow building that harms the city’s character.