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Riverfront Advisory Committee Considers University Rezoning

By Michael A. Calabrese

The newly established Citizens Riverfront Advisory Committee (CRAC) voted last night to postpone implementation of a temporary zoning proposal which would have prevented Harvard from building any structure higher than 85 feet on the University's riverfront property.

The Cambridge City Council Land Use Committee created CRAC as a public forum for discussion of all planning, zoning and development questions pertaining to the Charles's riverfront.

Business, community and University groups which could be affected by riverfront land use decisions were invited to participate in the first meeting last night. Harvard was represented by Lewis A. Armistead of the Community Affairs Office.

"Unless we put real stiff regulations on the university properties they can do just about anything they want with it, and that may mean high-rises," Saundra Graham, chairman of the Land Use Committee, said last night.

She echoed the words of Councilor David Clem, who said that Cambridge presently has no control over Harvard or MIT land use and that if University property were reclassified under institutional zoning regulations could be passed to restrain construction by the two schools.

The CRAC members appeared especially upset with MIT. Councilor Clem said MIT refused to attend the meeting because it opposes any university zoning changes as a matter of principle.

Open Discussion

Graham then opened discussion over whether the committee should leave university properties alone and concentrate on the development and regulation of other areas, or decide to regulate university property as well, including it in a plan for the entire river-front.

One member suggested the committee first ask the universities, businesses and residents exactly what they want along their section of the river and then have the committee make zoning and land use regulations to accomodate a public consensus.

The purpose of reclassifying university zoning would not aim at stopping the schools from building but to subject Harvard and MIT to the same constraints a private developer faces, such as special permits, city review control and height control, Clem said after the meeting.

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