City of Somerville

Agenda Item
Ordinance Ordained.
May 9, 2016 7:30 PM

11 registered voters proposing a Zoning Ordinance for Inclusionary Housing, with a petition from 511 citizens supporting an inclusionary zoning ordinance amendment and a revised application process.


Department:City ClerkSponsors:
Category:Public CommunicationPurposes:Public Ordinance

Official Text

See attachment.

Meeting History

Oct 8, 2015 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Also referred to the Planning Board.

Alderman Niedergang sponsored Ann Marie Astrousky, who expressed her support for inclusionary zoning. She explained the benefits for Somerville residents and for long term growth in the City. Alderman Niedergang supported this petition and emphasized the need to begin this process as soon as possible. The Board expressed the need for affordable housing and their support for this Zoning Ordinance.

Dec 9, 2015 6:00 PM  Land Use Committee Committee Meeting

Mr. Fred Berman spoke about the reasoning behind the proposal and the need for diversity and families. He gave reasons why the city should wait for the zoning overhaul, adding that he doesn’t want developers to try to beat the new law.

Alderman White expressed concern about luxury housing and requested an in depth analysis of the turnover in rental units.

Alderman Niedergang expressed his support for the proposal.

Mr. Proakis discussed how the city’s success has made it difficult for families and said that the city is committed to the idea, but that studies need to be done before the BOA acts on the proposal. He fears that a building moratorium may cause developers to go elsewhere. Mr. Proakis spoke about ordinances in other parts of the country.

Planning Board member Michael Capuano expressed his concern over affordability and said that he does not want to have any more studies. Planning Board member Joseph Favaloro expressed his frustration over nothing getting accomplished.

Mar 22, 2016 6:00 PM  Land Use Committee Committee of the Whole
Apr 5, 2016 6:00 PM  Land Use Committee Committee of the Whole

Ald. Niedergang stated he has several questions. He asked Mr. Proakis if there will be an updated report before the next meeting. He wants to read the planning board recommendations. He is concerned about timing. He asked if Union Square zoning will be brought to the BOA this spring.

Mr. Proakis stated that he will forward work from the Union Square master developer. There is a proposal for the Powder House School proposal.

Ald. Niedergang would like a vote on this before the end of the month. He mentioned Fred Berman's comparison of the residents' submission to planing board proposal. He asked about RKG's 65% proposal. Did RKG's study take the Green Line extension into consideration when coming up with property values. Mr. Proakis answered that the values are based on today's values.

Ald. Niedergang discussed parking reductions by Special Permit versus variance. How does a parking reduction add value to a project.

Ald. Connolly queried when the zoning overhaul package will be ready and if there will be public meetings. It will be ready in early summer and there will be 11 public meetings.

Ald. White wants to ensure parking reductions don't hurt neighborhoods. He wants to be sure public hearings are after the summer break so residents will be available to attend.

Ald. Ballantyne mentioned fiscal impacts and consultant reports.

Apr 12, 2016 6:00 PM  Land Use Committee Committee of the Whole
May 3, 2016 6:00 PM  Land Use Committee Committee of the Whole

Motion by Ald. Niedergang to Amend the Citizens’ Petition with Zoning Ordinance as presented by George Proakis. Approved

Mr. Proakis stated his prospective and challenge are 4 issues. He would like to hear there is a consensus at some point within the community.

Ald. White queried the waiver provision for parking

- Mr. Proakis explained how findings can be met for parking waivers

- Ald White expressed concern about a “good cause” required for parking reductions

- Mr. Proakis explained that the city is pushing for more underground parking. The boards are responsive to neighborhood concerns

- Ald. White would like to look at 9.13 separately to get BOA input

- Ald Heuston discussed the financial hardship aspect of the parking waiver. She also asked about the process of approving this item if a vote is not taken by next Tuesday

o Mr. Proakis stated that if it does not happen by noon on 5/11/16 there will have to be a new public hearing, notice and report of planning board

o Ald White opined that it would need to be re-advertised

Mr. Proakis stated he is not certain how the proposed inclusionary zoning will impact the community. He used Brickbottom as an example and discussed the upcoming overhaul draft. He knows that the BOA wants to make sure it is done right.

Ald. Connolly stressed the importance of this item being handled with care and asked when the overhaul draft would be complete. Mr. Proakis hopes to have a draft ready in June 2016 with hearings in Sept. 2016.

Ald. Heuston asked what would be considered “going too far” with respect to inclusionary zoning.

Mr. Proakis discussed how prices going down could impact development, open space goals and affordable housing goals.

Ald. Heuston expressed the importance of anticipating a downturn in the market. She asked if acting on this now was an emergency. She also mentioned that there has been no big development coming through recently. Mostly 4 and 5 units. She stated that there was an absent member of the BOA that would like to be part of the process.

Ald. Niedergang stated that this was introduced in December and there has been a lot of discussion. He feels a delay will cause it to lose momentum. He doesn’t want the numbers to stand as they do now because if that were the case, 90% of the city would be rich people. He wants a vote on this.

Ald. Mclaughlin wants a vote. He doesn’t want to wait for the zoning overhaul.

Ald. Connoly would like to wait for an update on the Green Line decision as it will impact the housing market. He also feels that the new high school, bonding and other issues should be considered before acting on this.

Ald. White discussed a potential schedule for this and stated that budget season will impact it.

Ald. White suggested a special BOA meeting and discharging this at the meeting on Monday.

Ald. McLaughlin would like to read through the item line by line.

The committee began going through line by line.

Ald. Niedergand feels 9.13 is good for development.

Ald. Heuston discussed 13.1(d) and how it impacts Somerville residents. She queried if the lottery is only for Somerville residents.

Ald. White asked if there was a residential priority in the citizens’ petition.

Kelly Donato explained the process. Preference is given to those who work or live in the city equally.

Ald. Heuston spoke about federal laws which prohibit residential priorities. She wants a legal opinion. She has experienced difficulty helping Somerville residents obtain housing because of federal restrictions.

Ald. White feels the appropriate place to debate the issues is in the Legislative Matters Committee.

Motion by Ald. White to accept pages 1 and 2 through section 13.2 -Approved

Ald. McLaughlin asked to sponsor Fred Berman to speak.

Motion by Ald Nidergang to amend the amendment to delete the 2nd bullet point on page 3 (Roll call vote 8/2/1) Approved

Ald. Heuston asked for clarification about definition of tiers. The Planning staff will present more info in future.

Motion by Ald. White to accept proposed Amendments through page 6 taking into account Ald. Niedergang’s motion -Approved

Ald. White would like to leave Tables 13.3.4A & 13.3.4.B open.

Ald. Heuston would like a table delineating rental vs. purchase

Mr. Proakis stated the biggest need is in the 3rd tier according to the needs assessment.

Ald. Heuston requested the household income for other areas.

Ald. White queried 13.3.5

13.4.2.A.3.2 was discussed by Mr. Proakis.

Ald. White suggested language to be added as a savings.

Motion by Ald. White to amend the proposed amendment by adding the language of a savings clause -Approved

Motion by Ald. White to amend proposed amendment -Approved

Motion by Ald. White to discharge and a special meeting to be called for Monday-Approved

May 9, 2016 7:30 PM Video City Council Special Meeting
AYES:John M. Connolly, Mary Jo Rossetti, Dennis M. Sullivan, William A. White Jr., Matthew McLaughlin, Maryann M. Heuston, Robert J. McWatters, Tony Lafuente, Mark Niedergang, Lance L. Davis, Katjana Ballantyne

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