Thursday, July 17, 2008

A-B TAB Op-Ed: Time to Step Back and Slow Down Master Plan Review

The Allston-Brighton TAB last week published an op-ed I wrote arguing that BC and the city of Boston should slow down their master plan review process, particularly in the light of recent comments by Mayor Thomas Menino:
With the tensions having risen between BC on the one hand and the residents and mayor on the other, now would be a good time for BC to: postpone its planning process for a few extra months; go back to the drawing table to improve its plan; engage with the city and community in an iterative process to modify it; and, in the end, produce a consensus plan that accommodates the needs of everyone, not just BC.
One particular way in which the city ought to consider requiring further review is that the purchase of the apartment building at 2000 Commonwealth Avenue -- and subsequent proposal to convert to an undergraduate dormitory -- were not part of the original institutional master plan notification form of December 2007.

In reading the 409 pages of public comments I was unable to find a single case where a letter writer requested BC to purchase off-campus buildings, nor did I find a case where a letter writer used terminology such as "university-controlled housing" or "university-owned housing" when calling for BC to house all their undergraduate students (the term "on-campus" was the typical language used in the letters).

The issue of an off-campus undergraduate dormitory was not raised in the IMPNF and, as a result, the public comments did not consider that possibility.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority has therefore not issued any kind of scoping determination on BC's proposal for an undergraduate dormitory at 2000 Comm Ave. Now would be the time to do so.

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