City Council Votes Against Building Of McDonald's
The Cambridge City Council voted unanimously last night to prevent the construction of a McDonald's restaurant in the place of a 125-year-old building at 463 Mass Ave in Central Square.
On a motion by Councillor David A. Wylie, the council ordered the city solicitor to take all possible steps "to prevent the demolition of the present building and to block the construction of the fast-food restaurant."
The council last night also passed Councillor Alfred E. Vellucci's motion ordering the C.E. Maguire Inc., consultants for the Kennedy Library project, to appear at a public hearing "to unfold all the information about the library."
The hearing, to be held at City Hall at 7:30 p.m., March 13, will be conducted by Vellucci's City Council Environment Committee.
The council also passed nine other motions related to the restaurant case after hearing almost two hours of testimony from groups opposing the demolition of the building.
Building owner George Rothman and representatives of McDonald's and the City Building Department, although invited by the city clerk to testify, did not appear at last night's meeting.
Jean Lane, a representative of the Douglass Street Tenants Organization, told the council that the 125-year-old building was among the few surviving examples of pre-Civil War Greek Revival architecture in Massachusetts and possessed "unmeasurable historic value."
Speaking for her group, Lane also said destruction of the building, which contains six family housing units, would add to the housing shortage. Construction of a restaurant would increase both traffic congestion and solid waste pollution, she said.
Lane submitted a petition signed by more than 200 residents opposing the McDonald's project. About 15 members of the tenants organization attended last night's meeting.
Frank Pedro, chairman of the Cambridge Model Cities Board, said elimination of the apartment building would decrease city tax revenues due to the low-rise plan for the restaurant.
Both Pedro and Michael Goldberg, a legal advisor to the tenants group, questioned the legality of the demolition permit which the City Building Department issued to building owner Rothman last year. The permit must be issued to the legal property owner and Rothman's rights to the land were suspect, they said.
Vellucci also asked if the restaurant permit issued to McDonald's by the City License Commission on January 25 was legal. "How could the commission give out a permit when the restaurant hasn't even been built, and when health and building inspectors haven't even set foot on the premises?" Vellucci asked. "That's absurd."
Lane asked for quick council action to reverse the approval by the city deparments of the McDonald's building. She added that all but one of the building's occupants have been evicted since Friday. The building is scheduled for demolition on April 15, she said.
On successive motions by Councillors Wylie, Vellucci, Saundra Graham, Francis H. Duehay '55 and Barbard Ackerman, the council voted to:
* Have the City Solicitor determine the legality of the demolition and restaurant permits involved in the case and at the same time ask the respective authorizing boards to revoke the permits;
* Order the new City Manager James Leo Sullivan to use his right of "eminent domain" so that the city could acquire the property;
* Order the City Planning Board to hold hearings on Central Square development within 30 days and post a schedule of subsequent hearings on a comprehensive plan for the whole city;
* Seek to revive a planning group to evaluate the development of Central Square and to order the Traffic Commission to review the Traffic Commission to review the traffic problems in the area;
* Ask the City Historical Commission if the building could be declared "an historic site" as well as to ask the Bicentennial Commission if it could use a floor of the building for its headquarters; and,
* Notify the McDonald's Corporation of the City Council's opposition to constructing fast-food restaurants in Cambridge