Council Considers Different Approaches to Cambridge Development

The City Council considered two policy orders Monday night that offered competing visions for how Cambridge should approach future development of housing, public spaces, and transportation.

Policy Order 14—proposed by Councillors Dennis J. Carlone, E. Denise Simmons, and Nadeem A. Mazen—suggested that the city manager adopt a comprehensive master plan, which would provide a framework for future decisions about development projects citywide.  The alternative plan, Policy Order 15—authored by Mayor David P. Maher, Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, and Councillor Marc C. McGovern—proposed that the Cambridge Community Development Department lead a series of public meetings to discuss a range of planning and zoning issues.

The two proposals proved highly contentious with more than 50 individuals attending the meeting and voicing opinions on how to proceed with development.

Advocates of the first resolution said that a master plan would ensure a more organized outline for future development projects. Supporters of Policy Order 14 also said that such a plan would prevent unbridled and disorganized development.

“Cambridge is under siege and development is out of control,” said Paul Stone, a Cambridge resident who supported the master plan. “There is no unified vision...other than full speed ahead.”

Critics argued that implementing a master plan would introduce excessive red tape and postpone much needed development, like the expansion of affordable green housing. In fact, many residents cited the current scarcity of housing as a major contributor to excessively high rent.

Other attendees said they appreciated how the Cambridge Community Development Department plan called for input from the local community.