Harvard Considers Court Suit To Reverse Agassiz Rezoning

Harvard is considering legal action to overturn the downzoning of the Agassiz neighborhood that the city council approved last week, Charles U. Daly, vice president for community and government affairs, said yesterday.

Daly said that the University's lawyers are "looking into the possibility" of contesting the rezoning of land just north of the law school, which is 58 per cent Harvard owned.

A spokesman for Robert A. Jones, a Cambridge developer who owns land in the area, said last night Jones may also contest the council's action.

A source close to the Office for Community and Government Affairs said yesterday that it was "conceivable" that Harvard would combine with the developer if he initiates a suit, but added that combining with Jones is "highly unlikely."

If the lawyers find any irregularities, then the University will try to correct it through administrative action before going to the courts, the source said.


Specific Irregularities

The source added that Daly knew of no specific irregularities in the rezoning process, but that it was necessary to check it out before altering Harvard's development plans.

The downzoning, which Harvard opposed, limits the University to construction no higher than 35 feet and no denser than 36 units an acre. The interim report on University expansion had listed the Agassiz land as a potential development site for new dormitories.

The source said that the rezoning has made it more likely Harvard will sell the houses it owns in the area. If they're sold, they will probably go to faculty, he said.

David Vickery, a Cambridge city planner, said last night that developer Jones was planning to bring suit on grounds that the Agassiz planning board had not given proper approval to the rezoning.

Jones Will Sue

Jones was unavailable for comment last night. A spokesman for Jones, however, knew about the possible suit, but was unsure whether the developer had filed yet.

Before the rezoning, Jones had planned construction of a high-rise apartment building in the area.

The council approved the measure at last week's city council meeting after Councilor Alfred E. Vellucci--in a surprise move--cast the vital sixth vote to assure passage.

According to Vickery, Jones maintains that the law requires seven votes to approve the rezoning because it had not been fully approved by the local board.

Vickery disputed the claim, adding, "there is no question that there is ample precedent against the Jones suit."