Climate Resilient Land Use: Zoning Districts

Climate Resilient Land Use Strategies_pano
Climate Resilient Land Use: Zoning Districts

Zoning Districts

See also: Floodplain Overlay Districts

Climate resilient language can be found in a wide variety of zoning districts reviewed below. Strategies include providing incentives for resilient development, restricting development, and adding requirements that improve resilience.

This page provides short summaries of key features of regulations based on desktop review. Links to the regulations are provided below. Conduct careful review when considering adopting new language. The resources included do not constitute legal advice. Municipalities should consult legal counsel when adopting new bylaws, ordinances, and policies.

Did we miss something? Do you have regulations or policies that should be added to this website? Do you need assistance? For additions, corrections, or questions please contact Senior Environmental Planner Anne Herbst at

Strategies to Increase Climate Resilience Through Zoning Districts

Coastal Incentives for Elevation
  • Saugus (XVIII) adopted its Waterfront Mixed Used Overlay District in 2014. Designed to stimulate development, its goals include promoting development that is resilient to flooding and future sea level rise. The overlay is an alternative to the underlying zoning. Incentives include an expanded array of allowed uses. It requires freeboard of one to three feet above FEMA base flood (the zoning was adopted prior to the state building code freeboard requirements). It also includes provisions for environmentally sensitive design and public access to the waterfront.
  • Marshfield (XIII, 305-13.05) adopted a Brant Rock Village Overlay District to reduce the impacts of actual and future coastal flooding and to promote mixed use development. The district provides alternate development options if structures are floodproofed at or above base flood elevation. Elevating above BFE is encouraged (the zoning was adopted prior to the state building code freeboard requirements).
  • Hull (III, 39B) adopted a Nantasket Beach Overlay District to encourage mixed use and multifamily redevelopment. Goals include protecting the barrier beach and dune system and incentivizing development that will be resilient to flooding and future sea level rise. Up to six feet of additional height is allowed in order to provide freeboard. The first floor must consist of non-habitable space; seasonal activities and parking are allowed on the first floor.
Restrictions on Development
Planned Unit Development Districts
Water Resource Protection Overlay Districts
Cluster Zoning/Open Space Districts
Smart Growth Districts