Home Stretch – Dec 2, 2013 Cambridge City Council Agenda Highlights
This Monday should be an interesting day. The City Council Recount commences at 8:30am at the Moore Youth Center (12 Gilmore St. by Hoyt Field), and at 5:30pm the City Council will meet in City Hall at the same time the Central Square Advisory Committee will be meeting next door in the Lombardi Building to hear testimony and discuss a housing proposal for 10 Essex Street. [The Planning Board will hold a hearing on Tuesday on the same proposal.]
There’s not a single City Council Order on the agenda this week, but there are a few noteworthy items as the 2012-13 City Council heads into its final month.
Manager’s Agenda #3. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Council Order No. 28, dated Sept 9, 2013, regarding establishing a committee to monitor the progress of the non-zoning recommendations of the C2 Committee.
The proposal is to fold consideration of the non-zoning C2 recommendations into the scope of the existing Central Square Advisory Committee which has been around since the creation of the Central Square Overlay District over two decades ago. This will coincide with upcoming appointments to the committee to bring it back up to the 9 members specified in the ordinance. The zoning-related recommendations of the C2 Committee (as developed by CDD staff) will likely be where most of any controversy will play itself out, but the non-zoning recommendations will have a lot to do with defining the fabric of Central Square in the sense of "place-making."
Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, regarding the creation of a short term task force that will consider drafting a municipal ordinance related to outdoor lighting.
The Teague Petition on this subject may have died last year due to its shortcomings, but a task force was promised to come up with a more appropriate proposal. These appointments mark the beginning of that process. Recommendations are anticipated in the spring. It’s not surprising that Charles Teague is one of the appointed members, but it will be interesting to see whether or not he can work cooperatively with the other 11 appointees. As with most things it’s better to have a balanced committee that can gather input from all stakeholders. This also applies to the soon-to-be-appointed "Net Zero" task force.
Unfinished Business #13. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 7, 2013 on the petition received from Boston Properties to amend the Zoning Ordinances and Zoning Map in the Ames Street area. The question comes on passing to be ordained on or after Dec 2, 2013. Planning Board hearing held Nov 12, 2013. Petition expires Feb 5, 2014.
Communications #2. A communication was received from Kathleen Born, Chair, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Board transmitting the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority Support for Boston Properties Ames Street Zoning Petition including a response to a request from the Ordinance Committee regarding fast food permits for the MXD District together with a Letter of Intent for the Ames Street Housing Project between the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and Boston Properties Limited Partnership.
The Ames Street Zoning Petition has another City Council hearing scheduled for Dec 9, so this matter won’t be voted until at least then. The communication from CRA Chair Kathy Born provides some details behind various provisions in the petition which is primarily about facilitating construction of housing on this stretch of Ames Street.
Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 20, 2013 to discuss a petition by the City Manager to amend the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Cambridge to define and list Registered Marijuana Dispensary, delete Section 11.700 and create a new Section 20.700 entitled Medical Marijuana Overlay Districts.
The proposed ordinance change is now taking shape, but it’s probably a good idea to think of this in conjunction with proposed statewide ballot questions that could potentially legalize marijuana outright. It would be reasonable to speculate that regulations now being developed for dispensaries would become the basis for future regulations for general sale of this drug should any such ballot questions prevail.
Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor David P. Maher, Chair of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Nov 21, 2013 to conduct a public hearing on a zoning petition filed by Christopher H. Lutz, et al requesting the City Council to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Cambridge by rezoning an area on the northern border of Richdale Avenue from Upland Road to Walden Street from its C1-A designation to residential C-1.
There’s not much to say about this except to note that the petition arose from a proposed redevelopment of the former Hathaway Bakery on Richdale Ave. for up to 54 units of new housing. Because the petition is opposed by owners of more than 20% of the affected area, it will require 7 votes out of 9 city councillors to pass the petition. As this may be difficult to achieve, it may well be the case that negotiation will be the preferred course of action for those unhappy with the proposed development. – Robert Winters