Wednesday, July 17, 2024

It’s the Aug. 1 meeting of the City Council — the sole council meeting scheduled for the summer — that will decide changes to the so-called 5.28 city laws.

The issue is on the agenda for tonight’s meeting but, according to a letter passed on by a citizen and confirmed by representatives of the mayoral and council offices, the vote will come in August. The amendment on which the council will vote expires Aug. 3.

The 5.28 zoning decides whether big nonresidential buildings can be turned into apartments when occupants such as businesses, government offices, schools or churches move out.

Some residents call the zoning amendment an “upzoning” that allows for more density in neighborhoods, since the current law — by mistake, some city officials say — doesn’t allow for conversion to apartments. The mayor, city manager and other city officials disagree, saying that while “residents have raised legitimate concerns relating to density and the overall impact that these conversions have on their neighborhood,” the proposed changes will significantly reduce the allowed density of these conversions.

The provision has been used 11 times in the past 10 years, according to Mayor David Maher.

The council meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.