Plaza Zoning Amendment Refused by City Council

A commercial development may be built on and next to the Kennedy Library site, but it probably won't be as massive as the one the developer originally envisoned.

Last night, the Cambridge City Council turned down the petition of Cambridge Plaza Inc. for a zoning amendment to let them build an apartment house--office building complex with a floor-area/land-space ratio (FAR) of seven on the site, now occupied by the Baird Atomic Co. The present FAR of the land is three.

Daniel J. Rufo, president of Cambridge Plaza Inc. said during the meeting that he would go ahead and build a development under the present FAR requirement. Councillor Daniel J. Hayes Jr. served notice of his intention to move reconsideration of the vote turning down the FAR of seven, and also of the defeat of an earlier motion--which Hayes introduced--proposing a FAR of six.

The vote to substitute the FAR of six failed on a 4-4 tie with Councillor Barbara Ackermann voting present. Then, only Hayes, Alfred E. Vellucci, and Mayor Walter J. Sullivan voted in favor of the request for a FAR of six. Councillor Thomas W. Danehy voted present, and the other five councillors voted no.

At the beginning of the two hour hearing, City Manager James L. Sullivan reported that he had been unable to reach a compromise with the developer. While city planners, the developer, and representatives of the Kennedy Library agreed that "they could live" with a FAR of 4.5, the developer refused to allow the City the control over design of the project that it wished, Sullivan said.

No Compromise

"The City proposed that they wanted strings attached to the project," Rufo said later, commenting that "It's illegal in the first place; I won't sign an illegal agreement."

Sullivan denied that controls would be illegal and introduced an order authorizing him to explore such controls over future development projects. The council passed the order, after Vellucci tacked on an amendment calling for a study of whether the City could establish a special "college zone," confining Harvard and M.I.T. buildings to that zone.

Vellucci Amendment

Councillor Edward A. Crane '35, who voted against the Vellucci amendment, later commented that such a zone would be illegal, saying that Massachusetts exempts educational institutions from local zoning requirements.