Friday, May 24, 2024

The citizen petition to cut back on development around North Cambridge’s Linear Park is on a week’s delay, mainly so the documents needed to let city councillors judge the issue can be tidied up and gathered in one place.

If the councillors vote Monday, as they might have at this week’s Monday council meeting, they will have a legal opinion on whether the petition is “spot zoning”; a document no longer describing irrelevant, once-potential business uses; and a report of the Planning Board’s opinion on the so-called Bishop petition.

The petition will need seven votes to pass from the nine-member council.

David Maher, who was mayor when the petition was introduced in August, hoped to vote soon because “we’re wearing people out a little bit … they’ve been through it twice.” The petition expired and had to be refiled — in a similar enough form that the Planning Board didn’t bother sending an opinion on the second filing. (It opposed the first version.)

Much of Monday’s discussion was taken up with looking at what kinds of businesses could be allowed in the area with the new zoning, but mainly the uses discussed are allowed in buildings put up before 1998. It’s not a concern when buildings are replaced, and the structures residents are focused on in the zoning are two business sites — Cambridge Lumber and Fawcett Oil — set to become as few as 97 apartments and condominiums or as many as 133, depending on how the vote goes and how developers respond.

The petition aims to answer residents’ development fears by asking the council to cut back the number of housing units pitched for construction in the area by 30 percent, formally remove commercial uses and protect the Linear Park from being crowded and towered over by new buildings.

Councillor Ken Reeves called the area that would be affected by the zoning “incoherent” and wondered if the Bishop zoning petition was a step in the right direction.

“I think it’s one approach in that direction,” said Stuart Dash, director of community planning. “I think the petitioners are actually very close.”

This post was updated March 5, 2012, to correct that the Bishop petition was introduced in August 2011.