The Planning Board approved a 22 unit development on the site of the East End Grill, 118 Broadway on Thursday night. The basic layout can be found in link below.
The decision was unanimous and approved in under 30 minutes. The public was not allowed to testify at this meeting, despite the Planning Board’s request for us to hold a fourth meeting to iron out issues. The board asked the developer’s lawyer to give a summary of the meeting, but the public, the four at large aldermen present, and myself were not allowed to speak on behalf of the community.
I was opposed to the development for a few reasons. I feel the L shape will hinder future development of the Broadway streetscape. I felt this project was in contradiction to the stated objectives of Somervision and the city’s zoning, two major decisions made before I was on the Board. I felt the asymmetrical shape was a shoehorning of units into a small space. The project could easily be adjusted into a more modest development built on the footprint of the current property that would allow abutting properties to build. I also found the proposed green space, which is in an alley way between buildings, was a gross manipulation of our stated open space goals. Other residents previously brought up parking and the direct abutter had several concerns, some of which were addressed but others not.
It is because of decisions like this that I moved to cut Planning Board positions whose terms have expired during the budget season. My hope was to pressure the city to address the undemocratic, rubber stamp process the Planning Board routinely displays and to hold these appointed positions accountable for their decisions. Some criticized this move as too aggressive, but days like today validate my decision. It is very difficult to try to represent the community on major developments when there is a feeling that all the important decisions were already made behind closed doors.
The Board of Aldermen will be taking up city wide zoning in the fall. This will hopefully be an opportunity to address problems with developments like this. There is also a possibility, however, of having new zoning that makes a public process even more irrelevant. If we are to develop in this city it should be done right with the desires of the community at the forefront.
Click on link to view lay out: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B401SUtwGPccTm83ZmxFRTdPWW1TX2R5N3VwcV9jSV9na3Rz/view