Cambridge Blocks Harvard Growth

Harvard felt the first effects of the city's new power to regulate its expansion into surrounding neighborhoods Monday night, when city council included the University in a temporary moratorium on all institutional conversion of residential properties.

The ban, which will last through the end of the year, prevents the University from converting residential property anywhere in the city to academic or other institutional use, and also blocks Harvard from demolishing residential property to make room for classrooms, offices or dorms.

On Hold

Designed as a holding action, the ban will prevent expansion of Harvard and all other non-profit organizations until the city has adopted formal zoning regulation to control institutional growth.

City officials, who have said institutional expansion worsens the city's housing shortage and erodes Cambridge's tax base, placed a moratorium on expansion by universities and organizations except Harvard last winter.



The University was not prevented from expanding because the state legislature a year ago refused to allow any regulation of Harvard, citing an antiquated passage in the state constitution protecting the University.

But the legislature, under pressure from local officials, changed its mind this summer and granted the city permission to include Harvard in its zoning.

"This moratorium is the first step to implement the great victory the city won earlier this summer when the legislature allowed us to zone Harvard," city councilor David Sullivan, who authored the bill repealing Harvard's exemption, said yesterday.


"It's necessary action by the city; it gives us time to come up with comprehensive, permenant regulations," Sullivan said, adding that if the zoning codes were not passed by January 1, "I trust the moratorium will be extended."


The codes, which must be approved by both the planning board and city council, will establish some areas as off-limits to institutional expansion and sharply limit institutional development in other parts of the city, sources in the Community Development Department, where the ordinance is being drafted, said.

Live With It

Harvard "will just live with the moratorium," Lewis A. Armistead, assistant to the vice-president for government and community relations, said yesterday.

Armistead said the development ban would not interfere with any University plans.