Today's Boston Globe features an op-ed on the Dennis Carlone, et al. petition to enable the city council to provide oversight on large development projects for the duration of the Citywide Master Plan process.
According to columnist Paul McMorrow, "Carlone has created broad support for a more holistic approach to development in Cambridge — one that doesn’t just create individual buildings, but builds communities."
The column, titled "Cambridge Needs New Approach to Development," goes on to say, in part:
Surprisingly, Carlone’s critique of the way development works in Cambridge has resonated with people who oppose the specific fix he’s proposing. It has instigated a unique citywide conversation about the failings of development in Cambridge.Carlone is no anti-development zealot. He’s been an architect and urban planner for four decades. He helped shape the redevelopment of East Cambridge. He says he advanced his bid to neutralize the Planning Board to stave off a push by residents to implement a development moratorium. But he is deeply critical of the type of development Cambridge’s Planning Board has approved in recent years.Carlone and a vocal ally on the City Council, Nadeem Mazen, argue that Cambridge’s Planning Board has been greenlighting development projects without a broader perspective. The result is a pile of pieces that don’t add up to anything. The area around Alewife and Fresh Pond is a warren of subdivisions that feel more like Burlington or Waltham than Cambridge. The projects don’t have much to do with one another, or with the city as a whole. The developers check the boxes on the Planning Board’s narrow zoning checklist, but don’t offer a broader vision of where Cambridge, as a city, is heading.
“What are we creating?” Carlone asks. “The quality of development, and the quality of thinking, has to step up beyond the property lines.”
Mazen believes Carlone’s critique of Cambridge’s development process has struck a chord. The debate has drawn out a surprisingly broad group of people who have come to see Cambridge as wracked by inadequate zoning, weak planning, inattention to quality-of-life issues, and a development process that frustrates residents rather than engaging them.
To be fair, Mr. McMorrow does not support the idea of city council oversight of large development projects -- but as many Cambridge residents have noted in the article's comments section -- he doesn't offer any immediate alternatives, either. In the words of Jan Devereux, president of the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance, McMorrow's stance, "ignores the urgency of the problems at hand." Click here to read the full column, and be sure to read the comments section, too.
The city council's Ordinance Committee will take up the matter of the Carlone, et al. petition on August 27, at 5:30 pm, in the CRLS/Attles Meeting Room, 459 Broadway. Click here for more information or to RSVP for this meeting.
In other news, the Planning Board is doing a walking tour of the CambridgePark Drive area this evening. The event will start at 6 pm; residents who are interested in joining the tour are asked to meet at the T symbol outside the Alewife MBTA station.