The Cambridge City Council last night voted to send the state legislature a request for more authority to control institutional expansion in the city.
The city last year won the right to restrict the expansion of Harvard and other non-profit institutions into low-density residential areas. The new powers would, if granted, cover the entire city and allow city regulation, perhaps through a permit-granting process, of any purchase that would take property off the tax rolls.
Under the state "home rule" law, the legislature must grant Cambridge special authority; even if the state did grant Cambridge the power it requests, the city council would still have to approve an ordinance setting up specific regulations.
Five city councilors voted in favor of filing the legislation, two opposed it and two were absent.
"The request is aimed at curtailing further expansion," councilor David Sullivan, who helped draft the proposal that will be filed with the legislature, said Monday. "The current regulations are too limited," Sullivan added.
Council Kevin Crane '73, who favored a similar request last year for power to block expansion into residential areas, opposed the new proposal.
"When we float bonds, we advertise this as the University city. That's how people know us," Crane said, adding, "I think we're going too far on this thing."
"In normal times I might agree with councilor Crane," councilor David Wylie said Monday. "But these are not normal times," he added, pointing to the need to retain property on the tax rolls in the face of revenue losses from Proposition 2 1/2.
Harvard officials were unavailable for comment yesterday.