SAND has raised concerns regarding the forthcoming Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP). A draft of the MHP scheduled for release by the BRA in mid-February.
A number of concerns regard weakening of coastal protections now offered by State Chapter 91 legislation. Waterfront developers have blurred boundaries in areas of open space (mixing streets, sidewalks and greenspace into calculations) and areas of public acommodation (mixing free and fee-based areas into calculations). Many of SAND's concerns were registered in a recent comment letter regarding the Fan Pier project (click here to read).
Last night, the BRA hosted the first community meeting regarding the Municipal Harbor Plan. The following letter follows up on a concern raised at this meeting.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority
City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02202
At last night's meeting regarding the Municipal Harbor Plan (MHP), I asked you a question regarding disparities between the BRA Seaport Public Realm Plan (PRP) and elements of the forthcoming MHP draft being discussed in public hearings. I mentioned that the PRP states that building heights above 150 feet will only be allowed at a few locations in the district, whereas the MHP may allow, for example, seven of eight towers on Fan Pier above 150 feet - four of which may exceed 250 feet.
Unfortunately, my comment was not considered because I did not have a copy of the PRP to support this assertion. Indeed, on page 106 of the PRP it discusses an expected Seaport Zoning Amendment to the Boston Zoning Code:
Height. This section will establish the maximum allowable building heights for the Seaport which will range from 55 to 150 feet as-of-right with a limited number of sites able to achieve higher heights subject to an approved PDA development plan that would balance height with public benefits.
SAND's major role in the planning discussion has been to advocate for urban neighborhood ideals in the waterfront, including residential housing, community amenities and recreational greenspace. In light of this mission, we have not focused extensively on height and density issues.
Height restrictions aside, it is a growing concern that the MHP may enable developers to deviate far from the intent of the PRP. Thousands of residents, advocacy groups, consultants and planners participated in the year-long planning effort resulting in the publication of the Seaport Public Realm Plan. With the publication of the PRP, many of these individuals considered their work done and moved on. Today, far fewer waterfront advocates, residents and City planners are participating in the creation of the MHP.
I appreciate your efforts to improve the MHP and hope you will consider these thoughts.
The Seaport Alliance for a Neighborhood Design (SAND)
www.seaportalliance.org / 617-423-4299
cc: Ms. E. Grob, Coastal Zone Management
Your comments as a visitor to the SAND website would be appreciated and forwarded for discussion.