John Briston Sullivan's petition to buy land from the city of Cambridge for an office building on stilts passed the State House of Representatives yesterday afternoon and seemed assured of quick approval by Governor Volpe.
A final effort by Rep. Mary Newman of Cambridge to kill the petition by referring it to the next annual session of the Legislature failed by a decisive 75-127 vote.
In requesting postponement of the bill, Mrs. Newman stressed that the Legislature is "establishing a dangerous precedent in allowing the sale of common lands when the public necessity is not involved." She also said the proposed building on stilts will damage an area of great historical interest and "will worsen an already terrible traffic situation."
No Restriction on Building
Rep. William I. Randall urged postponement of the bill, pointing out that there is no restriction on the type of structure. He told the House that "the way the bill is phrased now, there is no limit to the kind of building that could be constructed on the site."
If Gov. Volpe signs the bill, it will go to the Cambridge City Council, which must make a final decision on the sale of the land in front of Littaner Center. Five of the nine members of the Council have expressed approval of the sale, but Mrs. Newman believes the pressure of public opinion may force the Council "to allow the situation to cool off" for a few months before taking action.
Mrs. Newman indicated she would probably ask the Governor to set a cut-off date for Council acceptance of the petition. Such a move would prevent delaying tactics on the part of the Council. "An action of this nature by the Governor would not violate the principle of home rule," she said.
Although passage of the bill by the House had been expected, the votes of two Cambridge representatives stirred considerable comment. Rep. John J. Campbell and Rep. John R. Sennott, Jr., both of whom had originally signed Sullivan's petition, made a complete about face yesterday and supported Mrs. Newman's motion to refer the petition to the next Legislative session.