Somerville City Hall Property Owners and Tenants Face-Off In Record Numbers

By William Tauro

There were two very important and well attended meetings that took place this past week in Somerville.

The first meeting took place this past Tuesday April 3rd, 6pm in the Aldermanic Chambers at Somerville City Hall.

The purpose of this meeting was for Land Use, PUBLIC HEARING – Committee of the Whole/Joint meeting with the Planning Board item #204953: Recommend Requesting the adoption of a New Zoning Ordinance (1/2018 update) to supersede the current Zoning Ordinance as originally adopted on March 23, 1990.

The second meeting was also held in the Aldermanic Chambers at Somerville City Hall on the following evening of Wednesday April 4th at 6:00 pm

This particular meeting was for Legislative Matters PUBLIC HEARING – Committee of the Whole regarding item #204954: Recommend Requesting approval of a Home Rule Petition (HRP) to authorize the City to impose a Real Estate Transfer Fee.

(For background information and the text of the current working draft of the Real Estate Draft-Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition, go to www.somervillema.gov/transferfee) A HRP is enabling legislation, which means a municipality like Somerville, must ask for permission to enact at the local level. The state legislature and the Governor may not allow Somerville to enact.

This was a draft and could be edited. For this HRP it was not determined that there was one right strategy in composing the legislation. The HRP can be broad or more specific. At the moment this draft is broad, however it doesn’t mean it will ensure passage.

IF the State legislature and the Governor were to say ok, Somerville you can enact local legislation, then the Board of Aldermen would need to craft legislation with possibly more specific language, exemptions etc.

Both meetings were extremely heavily attended by hundreds of people who were both for and against the proposal consisting mainly of Somerville property owners, business owners as well as Somerville residential tenants who rent apartments across the city.

Hundreds of people including many former and current elected officials spoke regarding the proposal on how it would benefit and/or hurt the city.

This proposal is set for further review and discussion before it goes off to the state level.

A link to the agenda is posted here… http://somervillecityma.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=2671 along with some additional information submitted during committee.

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