New bill may impose special zoning regulations on chain stores

Travelling through Boston, one would be hard-pressed to find a street without a Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks sign hanging over the sidewalk. While these stores are great for a quick cup of coffee, they also do a tremendous job of crowding out small businesses. According to a recent report, the average Starbucks services 500 customers per day, with urban locations reaching much higher.

Small businesses may not be able to provide the rigid franchise appeal, but they are crucial for adding character to an otherwise uniform city street. In attempts to maintain a dynamic cityscape, Boston’s City Council is attempting to create regulations limiting chain stores from taking over the community.

Dunkin’ Donuts Located at 630 Washington Street (Source: BLDUP)

Boston’s City Council is not interested in removing franchises so much as limiting the amount of spaces they can take. The new proposed bill would require that firms with over 11 locations get a permit from the Zoning Board of Appeal, which would subject them to a public hearing to determine whether or not they can open. In 2006, San Francisco enacted a law limiting the expansion of chain operators.

If passed, these new regulations will provide a much-needed advantage for new small-businesses looking to get a piece of Boston’s flourishing real estate market.