Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston recalled how years ago a neighbor paved over his rose garden to make room for more parking.
As of Thursday night, that's no longer allowed.
In what Rebekah Gewirtz, aldermen of Ward 6, called it "a big victory for the city," the Somerville Board of Aldermen Thursday night passed two new zoning ordinances designed to increase the amount of pervious area in the city. (Pervious means water can flow through it. Much of Somerville is covered by impervious concrete and asphalt.)
The two new zoning ordinances "encourage green roofs [and] limit impervious surfaces," Gewirtz said. They also strive to "reduce the heat island effect," she said. Areas with lots of asphalt trap heat on hot days and increase the temperature of an area, creating "heat islands."
People will now "need permits before paving," Heuston said of the new ordinances.
The first new zoning ordinance ...
states that residential parcels of land in the city must meet minimum requirements for having pervious surfaces. Areas that are classified as Residential A and B (A is for one and two-family homes; B is for one-, two- and three-family homes) must have 35 percent of their lots covered by pervious surfaces. Residential C areas (neighborhoods with multi-family buildings) must have 30 percent of their lots covered with pervious surfaces.
The second new ordinance ...
says that anyone who wants to construct, alter, reconstruct, restore or expand a driveway must get a permit to do so. It also says paving contractors must now register with the city.
The ordinances are intended decrease stormwater runoff, which causes flooding, decrease the "heat island" effect, increase open space and, in general, make the city more pleasing. "The addition of asphalt driveways and parking areas can be detrimental to [the] character of Somerville's neighborhoods," the ordinances read.
Gewirtz said it's to "help people to make sure they're good neighbors."
The attached video shows depaving a yard, part of an overall effort to increase pervious space in the city.