Lead pipes are often a hidden danger under the streets and sidewalks for a lot of families in Chelsea, but if the City
State Rep. Dan Ryan praised the program and congratulated Chelsea in being proactive to replace lead service lines.
can help it, that danger will be removed one pipe at a time.
On Monday, the MWRA and the Clean Water Action Group awarded the City of Chelsea and GreenRoots for their early adoption of a program that removes, at no cost to the homeowner, lead water service lines while in the process of other infrastructure projects.
Part of that award included a $100,000 grant to help continue the program and remove more lead water lines as the City encounters them during paving or sidewalk repair programs.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is a common sense operation, but one that goes the extra step in replacing the line for free – as it usually is the responsibility of the homeowner to pay for the replacement.
“For the last year or more, as we’ve undertaken other construction projects on the streets, when we encounter a lead service line on the street, we are replacing it at no cost to the homeowner,” he said. “The MWRA grant helps ensure we will be able to continue to do that. We all want safe and clean drinking water and having clean water is elemental.”
Over time, lead can leach into drinking water, and studies have shown that lead is a neurotoxin and can affect cognitive abilities with repeated exposure. This is particularly dangerous for children and pregnant women.
“Chelsea is so proactive in doing this,” said MWRA Director Fred Laskey. “They are going through the inventory and going house to house and street to street to get rid of this problem. This is something that should serve as a model in how to prevent the scourge of lead in water. No other community has forged into this.”
Fidel Maltez of the Chelsea DPW said that more than 50 lines have been replaced so far under the program. Some of those were last year and came when they were working on street repairs, including to Shurtleff, Maverick, Clark, Crescent, Lawrence, Tudor and Webster Streets. This year, they will take on Essex Street and will be looking for lead water lines there too.
“Every project moving forward is going to identify and remove these lines with zero cost to the homeowner,” he said.
He said that any homeowner that thinks they might have a lead service line should contact the DPW at (617) 466-4200. They will send out a technician to verify if it is a lead pipe, and if it is, they will put it on a list for completion.
But, as School Committeeman Rich Maronski recalled, Scottie Holden did climb the Soldiers’ Home water tower and it was the stuff of legend growing up in Chelsea.
“The biggest news with the tower as a kid was when Scottie Holden actually climbed it,” said Maronski. “It was the talk of the town for more than a week. I grew up beside this tower all my life. It’s the thing I look at when I’m on an airplane. I know when I’m leaving and I know when I’m home by looking at that tower.”
His remembrance was but one of many that were shared at a special farewell to the Soldiers’ Home water tower last Friday, Nov. 30, in the shadow of the tower, which was constructed in 1958 and will come down in the next few weeks. It has to come down to make way for the $199 million Community Living Center that will provide long-term care for veterans in a modern, home-like setting. Currently, the Quigley Hospital provides great care, but it is laid out in open wards, which are no longer acceptable.
“Today is an opportunity to say farewell to the water tower that served as a beacon or a landmark to so many in and around Chelsea,” said state Veterans Secretary Francisco Urena. “This is a bittersweet moment, but this is also a happy moment for the veterans at the Soldiers Home who will reap the benefit of the largest investment ever in the Commonwealth for long-term veterans care. It’s going to be a beacon of care for veterans across the Commonwealth now.”
Supt. Cheryl Poppe said CBI Corp. put up the six-legged water tower in 1958, and the purpose was to help the water supply and water pressure at the home. Over time, however, the tower became less useful and a permanent pump station was implemented in 2011. The tower was decommissioned at that time, but allowed to stay in place. Over time, it has deteriorated and vandals have painted it.
“It was a noticeable part of the Chelsea skyline, but now our Community Living Center will serve as a special vision on the horizon as it will serve our veterans for the decades to come,” she said.
Tom Kasiecki said he has watched the tower all his life.
“I watched this tower go up when I was a kid in 1958,” he said. “I sat there at my window over there and watched them build it. Now, as a senior citizen, I am going to sit over there and watch them demolish it.”
Former City Councillor Matt Frank said he is going to miss the tower, and that it is special to him, but he also said he will choose to remember it now as a place of hope and rest for those who have served their country – as it was for his grandfather when he was there.
“That’s what I’m going to remember moving forward is we’re going to have a brand new facility for the veterans,” he said. “When I look up and see the skyline without the tower, I will be sad. I will miss the tower because I’ve had it there all my life. It’s always been there. However, when I look up and don’t see it, I’m going to think of the wonderful care that the veterans are receiving there.”
Added Barbara Richards, “It’s going to be very hard to see it go. Whether you go by boat, train, plan or car, you can always see the tower.”
Dottie Kusmierek has lived across the street from the tower for most of her life. She said it holds a special place in the hearts of her family members. She said it will be hard to see it go, but she understands the reasoning.
“My older brother was in Vietnam and he saw the water tower when he came back home and said, ‘At last, I’m home,’” she recalled. “There are a lot of changes now in Chelsea, and a lot of them I’m not happy about. Good bye old friend and on with the new.”
Councilor Luis Tejada said he would definitely be sad to see it go, and it’s a part of the local history to him.
“It’s sad to me because New England and Greater Boston have so much history, and it’s why people are jealous of us in other parts of the country,” he said. “The tower was an historical marker for Chelsea. My generation and up recognize that certainly. Sometimes in the name of progress you must give up some things to get others.”
After more than two and a half years of negotiations, the City is on the verge of a new contract with its two police unions that will see pay increases of up to three percent and implement residency requirements for new hires.
Monday night, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino requested the City Council approve the contracts, which are retroactive to Fiscal year 2017. The Council forwarded the request to its subcommittee on conference, and will take up an official vote on the contracts at a future meeting.
The collective bargaining agreements are for the unions which represent police superior officers and patrol officers.
“Both deals encompass four years, made up of two separate contracts: a one year deal for FY17; and a subsequent three year deal for FY 19-FY20,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.
The contracts include a retroactive salary increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
All told, the retroactive salary increases total about $876,000.
“I strongly recommend that the City Council support these agreements, which have been the subject of lengthy negotiations spanning more than two and a half years,” Ambrosino stated. “We set aside in Salary Reserve for the resolution of these two agreements a total of $700,000. Accordingly, we will need an additional appropriation from Stabilization of $176,000 to satisfy these contractual commitments.”
The salary hikes are the only cost item in the new contracts, according to the City Manager. Other items in the contracts related to longevity, detail pay, sick leave incentive, and clothing allowance are limited to clarifications or minor changes and do not add any additional costs to the City, he added.
The percentage increases for salary are slightly more than those other City Hall unions have received, Ambrosino said.
“However, in return, the City did secure new language on residency upon which the City Council insisted,” he stated. “As of January 1, 2019, all new police hires must live in the City of Chelsea for five years, consistent with the Ordinance approved by the City Council earlier this year.”
While there was no debate over the union contracts themselves at Monday’s Council meeting, District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop did raise concerns about the City’s use of its stabilization, or “rainy day” funds.
Bishop noted that Ambrosino was requesting the use of stabilization funds for improvements to Eden Park and for a protective cover for the new high school turf field as well as for the contract salary costs.
Those stabilization funds should be used for emergency situations, Bishop said.
“I don’t think any of these requests rise to the level of an emergency to use the rainy day fund,” he said.
While Bishop said he supported the requests being made, he wanted assurances that any money taken out of the City’s stabilization funds be replaced by free cash as soon as those funds are certified by the state.
Outside graduation coming closer to a
resolution, decided Dec. 17
The Chelsea High School Class of 2019’s quest to graduate outside at the high school could come to a conclusion at the City Council’s next meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.
That’s when the Council is expected to vote on a $170,000 appropriation from the school stabilization account to pay for a protective mat for the new turf field at the high school.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino made the request for the funds for the protective mat, which he said will allow for the use of the turf field for non-sporting events. The turf field comes with an eight-year warranty, but that warranty is voided if there are certain non-sporting uses on the field.
The possible purchase is good news for members of the high school’s senior class, who have been working with school and city officials, as well as fundraising, in an effort to have their graduation moved to the high school field.
Senior Manuel Teshe said the turf field cover will benefit the whole city, as well as students and their families attending the graduation.
“This investment is going to last for years,” he said. “If this is done, it is done for the city, and the future of the city is the students at Chelsea High School right now.”
Senior Class President Jocelyn Poste was one of a number of CHS students wearing “Dream Big” shirts who addressed the Council on Monday night.
“We are close to achieving our dream of graduating outside on our own field,” said Poste. “With the help of the City Council, this can be a possibility.”
School Supt. Mary Bourque also lent the students some support before the Council.
“This is a wise investment for our future and will have a positive impact on every generation here,” Bourque said.
District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia urged all the students present on Monday night to return with their friends on Dec. 17.
“I’m so incredibly proud of everything that was said tonight,” she said.
In other business, the Council approved a change in the zoning ordinance requiring tighter building controls in the Admiral’s Hill neighborhood.
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda introduced an order requesting that the License Commission hold two recreational marijuana licenses for applicants that have a majority ownership consisting of Chelsea residents.
Ambrosino asked the Council to approve funding for renovations to Eden Park.
The majority of the renovations will be reimbursed through a state grant, the city manager stated.
“The proposed renovations of Eden Park include replacement of the playground’s rubber surfacing, introduction of new playground equipment, installation of a new water feature and splash pad, installation of new site furniture and lighting, and reconstruction of all site utilities,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the Council.
The total cost of the renovations is about $750,000, according to Ambrosino. The City Council appropriated $250,000 through the Fiscal Year 2019 Capital Improvement Program. Of the remaining $500,000, the City Manager said $400,000 should be reimbursed by the state.
The City of Chelsea is happy to announce that the Senior Tax Work-Off Program is being offered once again. We offer clerical tasks and various office duties.
The Senior Tax Work-Off Program is a special program offered by the City of Chelsea to help financially eligible seniors receive a reduction off of their annual real estate taxes. If a senior qualifies for this program, they then work for the City’s departments, earning $12.00 per hour for up to 125 hours for a maximum of $1,500.00 per year.
Deadline for all applications is January 31, 2019
There is a limit of 25 participants per year, in the event the city receives more than 25 participants a lottery will be held to determine the current year’s participants.
For further information visit https://www.chelseama.gov/ or contact Denia Romero at 617-466-4170 / email@example.com
Veterans Tax Work-Off Abatement Program
The City of Chelsea is happy to announce that once again we are offering the Veterans Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program.
The program provides qualified Veterans and spouses of qualified Veterans who work up to 125 hours for the City an abatement of up to $1,500 against their real estate taxes.
We offer clerical tasks and various other office duties. If a Veteran qualifies for this program he/she would then work for the City’s departments, earning $12.00 per hour for up to 125 hours for a maximum of $1,500 per year.
Deadline for all applications is January 31, 2019
There is a limit of 25 participants per year, in the event the city receives more than 25 applicants a lottery will be held to determine the current year’s participants.
For further information visit https://www.chelseama.gov/ or contact Denia Romero at 617-466-4170 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Six members of the violent, transnational organization known as “La Mara Salvatrucha” or “MS-13” were indicted Nov. 28 in federal court in Boston with racketeering – with five charged in the murder of a teen last summer.
As alleged in the indictment, as part of the racketeering conspiracy, five of the six defendants participated in the murder of a teenage boy in Lynn, on or about July 30, 2018.
The indictment charges the following members of the Sykos Locos Salvatrucha clique:
Erick Lopez Flores, a/k/a “Mayimbu,” 29, of Lynn;
Henri Salvador Gutierrez, a/k/a “Perverso,” 19, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Somerville;
Eliseo Vaquerano Canas, a/k/a “Peligroso,” 19, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Chelsea;
Jonathan Tercero Yanes, a/k/a “Desalmado,” 21, a Salvadoran national previously residing in East Boston;
Marlos Reyes, a/k/a “Silencio,” 22, a Salvadoran national previously residing in Chelsea; and
Djavier Duggins, a/k/a “Haze,” 29, of Lynn.
The indictment also mentions an unnamed juvenile, who has been separately charged in a sealed information, as required by federal law.
Duggins was arrested Nov. 30 and will appear in federal court on Nov. 29, 2019, at 3:30 p.m. The five defendants accused of murder are currently detained on state charges or in immigration custody, and will appear in federal court in the days ahead.
As alleged in court documents, on Aug. 2, 2018, law enforcement officers responded to Henry Avenue Playground in Lynn, where a civilian had encountered the dead body of a young boy lying in a wooded area. Based on the condition of the body, it appeared that the victim had been murdered a few days prior to when the body was discovered.
It is alleged that Lopez, Salvador, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Reyes murdered the victim with premeditated malice, and with extreme atrocity and cruelty. The evidence includes a recording of Salvador allegedly describing the murder in graphic detail, including how he, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Yanes stabbed the victim numerous times while Lopez assisted. The recording also described Duggins as being a leader of the clique. The victim was allegedly targeted because the gang believed the victim had been cooperating with law enforcement.
“MS-13 is a ruthless, transnational gang operating in our backyard,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “This group routinely commits senseless acts of violence, including murder, to maintain control and instill fear. Dismantling MS-13 in Massachusetts and elsewhere is a top priority of the Department of Justice. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies will continue working together to investigate and hold MS-13 members responsible for these heinous crimes.”
“The murder of 17-year old Herson Rivas is another sobering example of the savagery of MS-13, the ruthlessness of its members, and the utter disregard they have for law and order, our communities, and the opportunities afforded to them while here in the United States. This barbaric behavior cannot and will not be tolerated, and law enforcement at all levels will continue to use all available resources, aggressively exploit all available intelligence, and work as one integrated team with the sole intention of preventing additional murders or future acts of violence,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “I commend the FBI’s North Gang Task Force for their unwavering pursuit of MS-13, the tremendous work conducted by our federal, state and local law enforcement partners regarding this threat, and the proactive efforts undertaken to move and share intelligence, all in an effort to stem the flow of violence. There is no place in society for MS-13—their violence and tactics need to be stopped—and this gang must be dismantled at all levels.”
According to court documents, MS-13 is a violent street gang whose branches or “cliques” operate throughout the United States, including Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence against rival gang members to gain promotions and to maintain membership and discipline within the group. Specifically, MS-13 members are required to attack and murder rival gang members whenever possible, and to attack and murder those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. MS-13 often recruits younger members from schools and communities with large immigrant populations from Central America.
The charge of RICO conspiracy typically provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. However, Lopez, Salvador, Vaquerano, Tercero, and Reyes face up to life in prison because their racketeering activity involved murder.
Christmas is coming and wish lists vary. Here are ideas from which most can benefit.
Medical care for all Americans. Congress must sever ties with lobbyists working on behalf of the pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies and represent the American people. Prescription costs are too high and the government pays too much money to the drug companies for those who receive various medicines from government coverage. All Americans should be able to see a doctor and receive medical care. Working Americans should have access to affordable medical care. Retired and poor/disabled/uninsurable Americans should have access to Medicare and Medicaid. All Veterans and military should be able to choose an alternate doctor or hospital when the VA hospital and doctors are not in close proximity or are inaccessible.
My medical insurance company recently informed me that my doctors must always gain their consent when prescribing any kind of medicine. They not only demand final approval on any medications I might need, they frequently dictate that my doctor prescribes a medication that is less expensive. I would like to think that my doctor prescribes medicines based on his opinion that they will work. If I decide to follow my doctor’s direction and the medical insurance company doesn’t agree then I will be totally out of pocket for my prescription.
My wife and I were in France once and she had to see a doctor. There were doctor offices everywhere in Paris. Seeing a doctor and getting two prescriptions were less than $35. We didn’t use an insurance card and a visit to the doctor and going to the pharmacy around the corner both took less than 90 minutes. France does not have socialized medicine. They are involved in controlling the costs of drugs. The life expectancy for those living in France is longer than us living in America. France’s medical world is not perfect but we should take notes.
Christmas will be good if Americans can have access to jobs across the country. Big cities are booming with jobs it seems but rural America does not have the same options. I suppose it will always be this way but everyone cannot live in Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas or Nashville, Tennessee. A friend of mine recently moved to Indianapolis and has job opportunities galore. The federal government must spend some of the money we give away to the Middle East on rural America. Roads, bridges, parks and investing in small companies that will locate in rural America must be a government priority. We’ve spent too many years nation-building throughout the planet and let Appalachia and other rural communities drown.
I don’t have enough space so here are musts for Americans this Christmas:
Small interest loans so our youth can afford to go to college. Make college as affordable as possible.
Turn Social Security around and keep our promised retirements solvent for our graying Americans.
Reward the corporations who stay in America and let those who want to be out of America pay the price for abandoning us.
Keep America safe with strong borders and a strong military and take care of those who do and have served our country.
Insure that sane Americans can have their Colt-45 revolvers by their bedside tables when they turn out the lights and say their prayers.
Finally, may we all be a little more like President George H.W. Bush who wrote newly elected President Bill Clinton a very gracious note welcoming him to the oval office and assuring him of his support saying “…that you will be ‘our’ President when you read this note.” He led by living the example that it doesn’t hurt any of us to be respectful, gracious, decent people who help, love and encourage others.
The Chelsea Fire Department has embarked on another year of collecting toys at the Central Fire Station for needy families, delivering them mid-month to the Toys for Tots campaign.
Capt. Phil Rogers said the fifth year of collections at the Central Fire Station has begun and he urged everyone in the community to bring in a new, non-violent, unwrapped toy if at all possible. They are accepting donations through Dec. 14, and can take them at the Station in Fay Square between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.
“We have started our annual Toys for Tots campaign,” said Rogers. “The toy drive ends a little early this year on Dec. 14, which is a little easier. We need all kinds of new toys and they should be unwrapped. Toys for Tots only accepts new toys. We have really enjoyed doing this over the years, and the people here have been so generous. We’re trying to make this an annual thing and it’s been working very well. If we can put a smile on a kid’s face, that’s a good thing.”
This year, the Fire Department is also sponsoring a winter clothing drive in conjunction with the toy drive to benefit St. Luke’s Food Pantry.
Rogers said several firefighters helped to cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner to those at the Pantry this year, and the needs there, he said, were “eye opening.”
In response, the Department decided to begin collecting winter clothing.
He said they need new or lightly-used gloves, hats, coats, mittens or scarves. For the homeless, he said they are requesting new packages of wool socks.
The Department will continue collecting the winter clothing through December.
Anyone in need of toys from the Toys for Tots campaign should contact their social worker or pastor, who will put them in touch with the proper people.
The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home water tower – a beloved local landmark – is slated to come down next month, and this Friday, the Soldiers’ Home is inviting everyone to its grounds to give an official good-bye to the red and white checkered symbol of Chelsea.
“The ceremony Friday is going to be very informal, but meaningful,” said Supt. Cheryl Poppe. “We’ve invited a lot of officials and the entire community. If anyone has a memory or a letter they would like to read, this would be a good time for that. This is a time for residents, staff and Soldiers’ Home residents to give the tower a farewell.”
Poppe said the tower has to be taken down due to the new $199 million Community Living Center project, which is starting construction now and will be in full building mode this spring. The tower has been a beloved symbol of Chelsea for decades since being put up in 1958. The red and white checkered tower was used to pump water, but for many more it became a symbol of the City of Chelsea – with people being able to see its ‘Chelsea Soldiers’ Home’ lettering from far and wide.
Poppe said it hasn’t been functional since 2009, and is structurally unsound now. There was no way to save it from the wrecking ball in order to build the new Center, but they do plan to commemorate it with a photo montage or a small model on the property.
“The construction company is still exploring ways to remove the tower and there are many ways,” she said. “They’re still examining things like how many layers of paint are on it and how they can safely take it down. It might now be until late in December, but we do expect it to go down soon. We wanted to make sure people had a chance to say good-bye before that happened.”
In addition, part of Malone Park will also be taken up soon by fences that will be used for construction activities and parking.
“I know I want to take my last walk around that loop before it’s not available,” said Poppe. “I’m sure others do, too.”
The Soldiers’ Home has had many scares over the years due to underfunding and the fact that the Quigley Hospital has open wards, something that was permitted in the past but no longer is.
“When it was built, you were supposed to come here, heal and then go home,” she said. “It wasn’t meant to be a home. Now, of course, people stay here and it is their home. This new Center will make it more of a home, right down to how the meals are prepared.”
Poppe said the fact that the hospital is getting a remake is a tribute to Lawrence Quigley, who advocated for years and years to get it built in the first place.
“At one point he said that the VA had done 21 surveys and 21 studies and it was time to do something,” he said. “He was trying to take care of the veterans from World War I, not even knowing his son would go to World War II and need the same services.”
She said there was quite a lot of folks who were sentimental or upset about the removal of the tower at first, but she said she believes in recent months many have seen the value of the overall project.
“The residents have a sentimentality for the tower, but at this pint they realize it is more important for veterans who need long-term care now and in the future to be served by this Community Living Center,” she said.
The farewell to the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home tower will take place on Friday, Nov. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Cross Country standout Yarid Deras may not talk much about her achievements, but the senior Chelsea High scholar-athlete has plenty of others to tout her accomplishments.
Aside from her coaches and Athletic Director Amanda Alpert, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has also honored her.
On Nov. 14, at the MIAA Recognition Breakfast, Deras was named the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Female award recipient. It’s an honor she will add to being the upper division league MVP this year in Cross Country.
“It’s very surprising to me how fast four years have gone,” she said. “I didn’t start running until my freshman year. It was the first thing I really did my freshman year. I didn’t really think I would enjoy it. I enjoyed the team and not so much the running. The summer after my freshman year, something happened and I really learned to love the sport for what it is. I will definitely continue running after high school, maybe for a club team in college.”
Deras’s coach, Don Fay, had nothing but good things to say for his senior leader and league MVP.
“I have coached Yarid for the last four years,” he said. “She is one of the most impressive young ladies I have ever met. Extremely smart, hard-working and competitive. She never misses practice, and never complains. Yarid is a truly nice, genuine person.”
Alpert said Deras is soft-spoken and very humble, always the last person to talk about any of her achievements.
Deras said the team is small, with about eight girls, but they are very competitive. She said over the years she has learned to be a leader, but that may not always come vocally.
“I think I don’t really lead vocally,” she said. “I don’t say much, but I think I lead by example. I don’t do much with words, but I set the example for the younger runners on my team. That’s how they have come to respect me as a leader.”
Even though she was this year’s league MVP, Deras said the highlight of her Cross Country career was last year when the team won the league meet and went undefeated for the entire season. Her sophomore year, she also won the league MVP and turned in an excellent 21.04 time in the 5K.
As a senior, she still has outdoor track to look forward to, and the Chelsea girls are also very strong in that sport as well. She said she will run the one-mile and two-mile races for the team.
She is currently looking at several colleges, including Smith College and Providence College.
The Planning Board recommended approval to two changes to the City’s zoning ordinances on Tuesday night.
The first change affects the Naval Hospital Residential and Commercial Districts, also known as the Admiral’s Hill area of the city.
In the 1980s, the city slackened many building and zoning regulations for the district in an effort to encourage development, according to Lad Dell, the city’s planning and land use administrator.
“People were able to develop without much regulation at all,” said Dell.
A moratorium on building in the district was recently extended to the end of the year by City Manager Thomas Ambrosino as the City worked on new regulations for the district.
The new ordinance recommended by the Planning Board for approval by the City Council allows for four- to six-unit buildings to be constructed by right, with a special permit required for any construction above six units.
The ordinance brought before the Planning Board allowed for building heights of 2 ½ stories and 35 feet. The board amended the ordinance to allow for a building height of 40 feet.
“I would suggest that we add the half a story and a little height to allow for garages,” said John DePriest, the City’s planning director.
City Councillor Roy Avellaneda said the amendment was in line with Council subcommittee discussions on the ordinance to increase building height to make it easier to build garages.
The residents who spoke during the public hearing on the zoning amendment were supportive.
“It looks like this is an effort to protect the character of the neighborhood and not overload our streets,” said Christine Shields.
The second zoning amendment would allow for residential units on the first floor of buildings in the Retail Business District by special permit, as long as those units are not on Broadway.
Two years ago, a zoning amendment banned residential units on the first floor in the Broadway corridor. If the new amendment is approved by the City Council, residential units will still be banned on the first floor on Broadway itself, but could be allowed under special permit on other streets near Broadway in the zoning district.
In other Planning Board business, the developers of the massive 1 Forbes Street project withdrew their plans for the project.
But rather than a massive blow to development in the City, it was a procedural move that gives developers more time to fully present the project to a full Planning Board, according to Paul Feldman, who is representing the developer for the 630-unit residential and office building project.
“The public hearing on this was opened on Sept. 22, and at that time, there were a couple of vacancies on the board and a member who was not present,” said Feldman. “With a nine member board, to get site approval, we need six votes.”
Feldman said developers are withdrawing the site plan, but immediately refiling it to start the clock over on the hearing process. He said he expects the project to be back before the Planning Board at its Dec. 18 meeting.
“We would like the participation of all nine members, or all that can attend,” said Feldman.
Tuesday night, the board also approved a special permit for a 16-seat Peruvian bistro-type restaurant at the site of a former liquor store on 22 Adams St.