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The fight over how much housing should be built on Shady Hill moved into the City Council chambers last night.
For over two hours, city councilors heard witnesses debating Harvard's request that the five and a half acre site, located near the Divinity school, be rezoned to permit construction of 300 units of housing for University personnel there.
The debate followed essentially the same lines as a Planning Board hearing held last month. Most opponents argued that the proposal would seriously damage the surrounding neighborhood of one-family homes by bringing crowds, traffic, and pollution into the area. A few opponents said Harvard should build more than 300 units in order to ease further the City's housing shortage.
The Council took no action on the petition other than to refer it to a committee for study. When it comes to a vote in the Council, Harvard will need the votes of at least six of the nine city councilors in order to receive the zoning change.
Seven votes may be required however, Yesterday, the Norton Woods Neighborhood Association-a group of around 70 neighborhood residents who support building no more than 160 units on thesite-filed with the City Clerk a petition opposing the zoning change.
The association claimed the petition was signed by more than 20 per cent of the abutters to Shady Hill. If the City verifies it, state law requires a three fourths (7vote) majority vote to approve the change.
Harold L. Goyette, University Planning Officer, said at the hearing that Harvard was willing to make two changes in the project which the Planning Board had requested. Goyette said that Harvard would:
Give University personnel now living off-campus in Cambridge. or those who would be coming to live in the City, first priority for Shady Hill apartments. University personnel living in other Greater Boston cities would have lower priority.
Make payments to the City equal to the taxes the project would pay if owned by a commercial developer. Previously, the University had proposed payments equal to 50 to 75 per cent of full taxes.
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