Monday, May 27, 2024

A citizen-written petition to keep buildings from getting too big and crowding a part of North Cambridge gets what may be its final hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.

“Our Linear Park neighborhood is rare, special, a real community. Once lost, it’s gone forever,” said Charles Teague, a resident who plans to present the zoning proposal, called the Bishop petition, and show off a sophisticated 3-D model of how the neighborhood would be affected if the zoning fails.

But the effects of the current zoning are already obvious, Teague said, in the size of such projects as the ones intended to replace Fawcett Oil (77 apartments) and Cambridge Lumber (20 condominiums) and the way developments crowd the former rail path known as the Linear Park. (“Everybody loves the park. They love it so much they’re killing it,” he’s said, noting towering homes that block out light and crowd the path with plastic fencing, air conditioners, generators and apartment trash.)

Cutting the allowed density by 30 percent, formally removing commercial uses from the area and protecting the Linear Park must be in city law to counter a wave of development that could bring more than 1,400 announced housing units to the area in addition to the 333 that have been built in the area in the past five years, Teague said.

The Bishop petition was introduced in September, died without council action and was reintroduced this year. Residents see it as safety and traffic concern, because of the many small and even one-way streets they fear will be flooded with cars when new residents arrive, as well as a quality of life issue changing the cozy neighborhoods they chose to buy or rent in.

“The intensity and density is becoming overwhelming,” Brookford Street resident Merhi Sater said last month. “Our streets are becoming a nightmare.”

City Hall is at 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

This post was updated Feb. 23, 2012, to update the number of units proposed for the Fawcett Oil site.