Mayor Wu signs ordinance creating first city-run planning department in 70 years

Mayor Michelle Wu signs an ordinance creating a new City Planning Department. (Nancy Lane/Boston Herald)

Mayor Michelle Wu signed off on an ordinance Wednesday reinstating a planning department run by the city for the first time in 70 years during a ceremony in the West End on Tuesday, a big step for her plans to reshape development in the city.

“Today we mark a long-overdue new chapter in Boston’s growth — grounded in affordability, resiliency, and equity,” said Wu. “This ordinance is the biggest step Boston has taken in 70 years to finally begin untangling a system of development rooted in an outdated ideology that left scars in our communities.”

The ordinance, which was filed by the mayor in January and passed by the City Council last Wednesday, would create a Planning Department, operational as of July 1.

Under the ordinance, the department will “will house planning, zoning, development review, urban design, and real estate staff” and is included in the city budget, the city said in a release. It also includes the transfer of support staff from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

The purpose of the department, the city said, is codified as planning for development, use of public land, predictable zoning codes, development processes and urban design standards.

The measure was contentious during debate in the City Council, which will have budgetary oversight of the department. Critics have noted it falls short of the Wu’s initial plans to abolish the BPDA. Department staff will support the BPDA, which will remain the city’s Planning Board, on development and public land projects and planning and zoning initiatives, according to the city.

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