SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES[p. 152]
AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE HEIGHT OF BUILDINGS IN THE CITY OF BOSTON.
SECTION 1. The city of Boston shall be divided into districts of two classes, to be designated districts A and B. The boundaries of the said districts, established as hereinafter provided, shall continue for a period of fifteen years, and shall be determined in such manner that those parts of the city in which all or the greater part of the buildings situate therein are at the time of such determination used for business or commercial purposes shall be included in the district or districts designated A, and those parts of the city in which all or the greater part of the buildings situate therein are at the said time used for residential purposes or for other purposes not business or commercial shall be in the district or districts designated B.
"Commission on Height of Buildings in the City of Boston."
The commission shall immediately upon its appointment give notice and public hearings, and shall make an order establishing the boundaries of the districts aforesaid, and, within one month after its appointment, shall cause the same to be recorded in the registry of deeds for the county of Suffolk. The boundaries so established shall continue for a period of fifteen years from the date of the said recording. Any person who is aggrieved by the said order may, within thirty days after the recording thereof, appeal to the commission for a revision; and the commission may, within six months after its appointment, revise such order, and the revision shall be recorded in the registry of deeds for the county of Suffolk, and shall date back to the original date of recording. The members of the commission shall serve until the districts have been established as aforesaid; and any vacancy in the commission caused by resignation, death or inability to act shall be filled by the mayor, on written application by the remaining members of the commission or of ten inhabitants of the city. The members of the commission shall receive such compensation as the mayor shall determine.
Section 3. In the city of Boston no building shall be erected to a height of more than one hundred and twenty-five feet above the grade of the street in any district designated A, and no building shall be erected to a height of more than eighty feet above the grade of the street in any district designated B. These restrictions shall not apply to grain or coal elevators or sugar refineries in any district designated A, nor to steeples, domes, towers or cupolas erected for strictly ornamental purposes, of fireproof material, on buildings of the above height or less in any district. The supreme judicial court and the superior court shall each have jurisdiction in equity to enforce the provisions of this act, and to restrain the violation thereof.
This original act regulating the height of buildings in Boston was modified later in some details but its main provisions are unchanged. It has been tested in the Supreme Court of the United States and upheld. With proper state legislation it appears to open the way for the adoption of differentiated building regulations by American cities.
THE FILLING OF THE BACK BAY MUD FLATS, BOSTON.
In 1849 a Land Commission was appointed to deal with the subject of creating new land out of the Back Bay mud flats, Boston. Comprehensive plans were reported in 1852, but the work of filling the land was not begun until 1857. The commonwealth had the right to the flats below the line of riparian ownership. The plan of the Back Bay improvement was the work of the late Arthur Gilman, an eminent architect.
In 1857 the commonwealth owned on the Back Bay 4,723,998 feet and the net profits on the sale of this land up to 1882 were $3,068,636.28, with 102,593 feet remaining unsold, valued at not less than $250,000. The net profit of the Land Company amounted to over $2,000,000.
The Back Bay today is characterized by broad, handsome streets and the magnificence of architecture both in its public buildings and private dwellings. Commonwealth Avenue, the principal street, is 200 feet wide with broad green mall in the centre and the distance from house to house across the street is 240 feet. [p. 155] The Back Bay is one of the most valuable parts of the city, the real estate assessment being now about $100,000,000.
One mistake was the short-sighted policy which permitted the building over of the territory between Beacon Street and the Charles River, as that street might have been placed on the line of a beautiful embankment. Three times a proposition was made to give to the city 500,000 feet of land between Beacon Street and the river on condition that it fill the land, never allow it to be built on, and add the territory to the Public Garden, which itself had been secured by filling. Unfortunately the value of the river front for park and other purposes was not appreciated at that time and the proposition was repeatedly rejected.
"In 1848, the land grants of the United States for the support of Wisconsin University were made a perpetual fund for its support. The university is now supported partly by the income of those federal grants, partly by taxation of the people of the state, and partly by private gifts.
'The government of the institution,'
says its official catalogue,
'rests upon the inherent obligations of members to the university and to the state. The university is maintained at the public expense for the public good.'
"How practically the public expense has resulted in the public good I have not time here to describe. The public enlightenment which emanates from it as a centre has made the University of Wisconsin the richest asset of the state in leadership. In a single department, Agriculture, it has revolutionized the methods and resources of a vast community to the enormous increase of their power, wealth, and happiness.
"And so of other universities, that have sprung up all over the land out of the common sense of the common people: young titans of the states, who have only just begun to use their civic sinews, still unconscious of their limitless strength as leaders.
"The common sense of the common people, I have said. Yes, but by the nature of our democracy that common sense can respond only to leadership. Sixty-two years ago, there was no City College in New York. Sixty-one years ago, there was no [p. 156] University of Wisconsin. Sixty-five years ago, wise leaders of education, wise civic leaders, were busy - burningly active - to bring into being those institutions, which now are commonplaces, but which then seemed to many impractical visions.
"Surely today there are organizers wiser and greater than sixty-five years ago - in education and in civics. Let them, too, have the burning will, the clear ideal, the patience to organize the theatre, and our children will view as commonplaces a galaxy of institutions, to which our young titans, the universities, are themselves as pygmies. For we must remember that under Anglo-Saxon traditions never has the theatre been organized as a civic institution, publicly endowed. Once this has been accomplished throughout our nation, then for the first time the passionate resources of the dramatist will be pitted in noble competition against the paler resources of the scholar, for the crown of civic leadership: then for the first time the nation will witness the most splendid contest of educators: when Sophocles and Shakespeare shall vie with Socrates and Erasmus in service to the state.
"What a practical vision this holds forth to the theatre and America! To realize it, all that is needed is civic organization. But civic organization already exists in many forms. Let it make right use of its power to solve this national problem."
A proposed ordinance regulating the planting, maintenance, trimming and removal of trees in the City of Madison.
The Common Council of the City of Madison do ordain as follows:
SECTION 1. The trees and other vegetation in the streets and public grounds of the City of Madison shall be under the control of a board with the title of Board of Shade Tree Commissioners, said board to consist of the mayor of the city, the city engineer, and the president of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association and two other citizens of Madison, one to be named by the common council and one by the president of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association. The president of the Madison [p. 157] Park and Pleasure Drive Association shall be president of the said Board of Shade Tree Commissioners.
Section 2. The said board of shade tree commissioners shall have authority to direct and regulate the planting, trimming, and preservation of shade and ornamental trees and shrubbery, in the streets of said city; and to appoint a tree warden to superintend and regulate the planting and culture of such trees and shrubbery in said streets, and to perform such other similar duties as said board by its rules and regulations may prescribe. Said board is also authorized to enact such rules and regulations as it may deem proper to carry out the purposes of this act. It shall have general care of all shade and ornamental trees, and the shrubbery growing in the streets of said city and by majority vote may direct the removal of any that it may deem detrimental or undesirable. No shade or ornamental trees growing in the streets of said city, shall be destroyed or removed except by leave in writing, first obtained from the president of said board of shade tree commissioners, the same to be duly countersigned by the tree warden.
Section 3. The said board of shade tree commissioners may in its discretion cause suitable shade trees to be planted along and upon any street or any portion thereof, in said city; and may cause to be assessed upon the piece or parcel of land abutting upon such street and benefited by such improvement, the cost of purchasing and planting such trees. The sum so assessed shall not be greater than the amount actually expended for the purchase of such trees and the expense of planting; and any trees that may die within three years after having been so planted, shall be replaced by said board without additional assessment. The said board shall by resolution direct the amount to be assessed against each piece or parcel of land; and such assessment shall be collected and the payment thereof enforced, with, and in like manner as other city taxes are collected, and the payment thereof enforced, and such assessments when collected by the city treasurer, shall be placed by him in the shade tree fund.
Section 4. For the purpose of providing necessary funds to meet the expenses of the board of shade tree commissioners, the common council of the said city shall in each year appropriate a reasonable amount of money.[p. 158]
GERMAN CITY BUILDING REGULATIONS.
IN THE INNER CITY.
Buildings may cover from 1/2 to 5/6 of the lot and have a maximum height of 20 metres.[1*] Usually they may not exceed the width of the street upon which they front by more than two metres.
IN THE OUTER CITY.
a. In the Inner Zone.
1. The Residence Section.
2. The Mixed Sections.
3. The Factory Section.
b. In the Outer Zone.
1. The Residence Section.
2. The Mixed Section.
3. The Factory Section.
owned by City
|Proportion of Total Area
owned by City
[note 6][p. 161]
AN ACT to create sections 959-17a to 959-17j inclusive, of the statutes, relating to the creation and organization of a commission on the city plan in cities of the first, second and third classes, and to the acquisition of lands by such cities for certain public purposes.
SECTION 1. There is added to the statutes ten new sections to read:
Section 959-17a. The common council of every city of the first, second and third classes may, by ordinance, provide for the creation of a commission on the city plan to consist of seven members whose organization, power, duties, and qualifications shall be as set forth in sections 959-17b to 959-17j inclusive.
Section 959-17b. Such commission shall consist of the mayor, who shall be its presiding officer, the city engineer, the president of the park board, one member of the common council and three citizens. In case any such city shall be without a park board the mayor shall appoint four citizen members.
Section 959-17c. Upon the adoption of an ordinance as provided in section 959-17a, the common council of any such city shall, by a two-thirds vote of its members, elect one of its number as a member of such commission, who shall serve as such member until the next ensuing first day of May; and during the month of April of each year, or whenever a vacancy shall occur, the council shall, by a like two-thirds vote, elect one of its number for a period of one year from and after the first day of May then ensuing, or to fill the unexpired term.
Section 959-17d. Immediately upon the adoption of such ordinance, the mayor shall appoint three citizens, members of such commission, one citizen member to hold office for three years, one citizen member for two years and one citizen member for one year from the ensuing first day of May, and in case any city shall be without a park board, the mayor of such city shall appoint a fourth citizen member to hold office for one year from the ensuing first day of May or until such city shall establish a park board. In the month of April of each year thereafter, in which the terms of office of such citizen members respectively expire, the mayor shall appoint one citizen member of such commission for the period of three years from the first day of May next ensuing, and in case any city should be without a park board, one additional citizen member for a period of one year from the first day of May next ensuing, or until such city shall [p. 162] establish a park board. Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the term of any citizen member, the mayor shall appoint a citizen as a member to fill such unexpired term.
Section 959-17e. No member of the common council or citizen shall be elected or appointed a member of such commission who shall be actively engaged in the purchasing or selling of real estate in such city, and all citizen members shall be persons of recognized experience and qualifications. Such members of the commission shall hold office until their respective successors are elected and qualified. No member of any such commission shall receive any compensation for his services as such member.
Section 959-17f. The common council of any such city shall refer any question concerning the location and architectural design of any public building, the location of any statue or other memorial, the location, extension, widening, enlargement, ornamentation, and parking of any street, parkway, boulevard, park, playground, or other memorial or public grounds within any such city to such commission for its consideration and report before final action is taken thereon by such council. All plats or replats of any lands within the limits of such city or of any lands outside of and within one and one-half miles of the limits of such city shall be submitted to the commission of such city for its recommendation to the council before the same are approved by such council.
Section 959-17g. The common council may refer to said commission the construction or carrying out of any public work not expressly within the province of other boards or commissions of said city, and may delegate to said commission all powers which the said council deems necessary to complete such work in all details.
Section 959-17h. Said commission may make or cause to be made a map or maps of said city or any portion thereof, showing locations proposed by it for any new public building, statue, memorial grounds, street, parkway, boulevard, park, playgrounds, or any other public grounds and the grades thereof, and the street building and veranda lines thereof, and for any new square or park, or any changes by it deemed advisable in the present location of any public building, statue, memorial, grounds, street, parkway, boulevards, playgrounds, square or park, and may employ expert advice in the making of such map or maps.
Section 959-17i. Any such city, acting through its commission, or otherwise, may acquire by gift, purchase, or condemnation any lands within its corporate limits, for establishing, laying [p. 163] out, widening, enlarging, extending and maintaining memorial grounds, streets, squares, parkways, boulevards, parks, playgrounds, sites for public buildings, and reservations in and about and along and leading to any or all of the same; and after the establishment, layout and completion of such improvements, may convey any such real estate thus acquired and not necessary for such improvements, with reservations concerning the future use and occupation of such real estate, so as to protect such public works and improvements, and their environs, and to preserve the view, appearance, light, air and usefulness of such public works, and to promote the public health and welfare.
1. The council shall cause to be prepared, under the supervision of the city engineer, an official plan of the city, upon which shall be shown -
2. For the purpose of making such plan, the engineer or any assistant or employee may enter upon any private property in the day time. 1896, c. 27, s. 13.
550. Every such new street, and every such alteration or extension of any existing street, shall be laid out on such plan of [p. 164] such extent and dimensions as the city engineer determines; but no new street shall be laid out -
551. On any such plan any property of the city shall be shewn.
554. Upon such confirmation, the city engineer shall set up such bounds or monuments as he deems proper to mark the lines of every existing street shown on such plan, and a record of the date of setting up every such bound or monument, and the location and nature thereof, shall be kept by the city engineer. 1896, c. 27, s. 22.
555. After any such confirmation, when any new street is opened, or any alteration or extension made to any existing [p. 165] street, the city engineer shall mark such street, alteration or extension on the plans filed in his office and in the registry of deeds, and shall set up such bounds or monuments as he deems necessary to mark the lines thereof. 1896, c. 27, s. 25.
1. When the plan has been so confirmed by the council, the same shall be binding and conclusive upon the city and the owner of any property affected, and upon every other person whomsoever, as to the location, dimensions and lines of any existing street shown thereon, and also that such street at the time of confirming the plan belonged to the city.
[note 7][p. 166]
LIST OF PLACES FOR WHICH GENERAL PLANS HAVE BEEN PREPARED.
Resolved by the Senate, the Assembly concurring, That section 31 of article IV of the constitution be amended by adding at the end the following: Except that the legislature may enact special legislation with reference to the city at which is located the seat of government and the State University, including the power to amend the city charter of such city and its debt limit.
SECTION 6. For the purpose of defraying extraordinary expenditures and for the purpose of acquiring by purchase or condemnation lands for public purposes and for the permanent improvement thereof, the state may contract public debts and issue its bonds therefor (but such debts shall never in the aggregate exceed * * * at one time one per centum on the value of the taxable property of the state as last determined by the duly constituted state authority). Every such debt shall be authorized by law for some purpose or purposes to be distinctly specified therein; and the vote of a majority of all the members elected to each house, to be taken by yeas and nays, shall be necessary to the passage of such law; and every such law shall provide for levying, in case of any debt contracted for defraying extraordinary expenditures, an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest of such debt and the principal within five years from the passage of such law, and in case of any debt contracted in the acquisition of land or for the permanent improvement thereof, every such law shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest of such debt and the principal within a period of not exceeding fifty years from the passage of such law, and shall specially appropriate the proceeds of such taxes to the payment of such principal and interest; and such appropriation shall not be repealed, nor the taxes be postponed or diminished, until the principal and interest of such debt shall have been wholly paid.
SECTION 3. It shall be the duty of the legislature, and they are hereby empowered, to provide for the organization of cities and incorporated villages, and to restrict their power of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, contracting debts, and loaning their credit, so as to prevent abuses in assessments and taxation, and in contracting debts by such municipal corporations. No county, city, town, village, school district, or other municipal corporation shall be allowed to become indebted in any manner or for any purpose to any amount, including existing indebtedness, in the aggregate exceeding five per centum on the value of [p. 168] the taxable property therein, to be ascertained by the last assessment for state and county taxes previous to the incurring of such indebtedness. Any county, city, town, village, school district, or other municipal corporation incurring any indebtedness as aforesaid, shall, before or at the time of doing so, provide for the collection of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the interest on such debt as it falls due, and also to pay and discharge the principal thereof within twenty years from the time of contracting the same; except that when such indebtedness is incurred in the acquisition of lands by cities, or by counties having a population of 150,000 or over, for public, municipal purposes, or for the permanent improvement thereof, the city or county incurring the same shall, before or at the time of so doing provide for the collection of a direct annual tax sufficient to pay the interest on such debt as it falls due, and also to pay and discharge the principal thereof within a period not exceeding fifty years from the time of contracting the same.
Joint Resolution to amend article XI of the Wisconsin State constitution by adding thereto a new section to be known as Section 3a, relating to the acquisition of lands by the state or any of its cities for certain public purposes.
SECTION 3a. The state or any of its cities may acquire by gift, purchase, or condemnation lands for establishing, laying out, widening, enlarging, extending, and maintaining memorial grounds, streets, squares, parkways, boulevards, parks, playgrounds, sites for public buildings, and reservations in and about and along and leading to any or all of the same; and after the establishment, lay-out, and completion of such improvements, may convey any such real estate thus acquired and not necessary for such improvements, with reservations concerning the future use and occupation of such real estate, so as to protect such public works and improvements, and their environs, and to preserve the view, appearance, light, air, and usefulness of such public works.
[1*] A meter is 39.37 inches.
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