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State Committee Sidelines Bill To Speed Parcel 1B Project

By William E. Mckibben

The House Urban Affairs Committee yesterday refused to send a bill that should have speeded the development of a large parcel of land in Harvard Square to the full House yesterday, a move observers say may mean the death of the controversial proposal.

The bill, which would have allowed the developer of Parcel 1B, located next to the Harvard Motor House off Brattle Sq., to bypass some state and local reviews, "is dead for now," a source on the committee said yesterday.

The committee sent the bill to the Ways and Means Committee instead of for warding it the House floor for action.

State Rep. Saundra Graham, who filed the bill in the hopes of creating more jobs for city residents, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A coalition of neighborhood groups, including the Harvard Square Defense Fund and the Cambridge Civic Association (CCA) testified in opposition to the project at state house hearings.

Graham, who ran on the CCA slate for city council last November, "received a lot of flak" for filing the bill, one CCA member said. Another said the bill was rerouted to the Ways and Means Committee as the result of "an amicable decision-making process."

The developers, Kennedy Square Associates, plan a shopping mall, restaurant, office space and housing complex on the site.

Cambridge gave initial approval to the development last year, but state environmental reviews will not be completed until later this year.

"Graham's bill would have taken away all the protection we ever fought for," Pebble Gifford, a defense fund member, said last week.

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