As homeowners of up to 14 years in the residential neighborhood right across the fence from the Metropolitan Pipe property, I am alarmed by the implications of a zoning variance petitioned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities and tied to a gift that is very tempting to the city – land along the planned Grand Junction Multi-Use Path.

There is a good reason this lot at Binney and Fulkerson streets is zoned with a 45-foot cap: It is a buffer zone between the nearby sky-scraping biotech buildings and the homes and yards where my neighbors and I raise children, flowers and vegetables. Alexandria knew about the zoning when it bought the property, and should abide by it. It has admitted it could make a tidy profit doing so.

The proposed variance, including the mechanicals that would go on top, would nearly triple the height allowed by the current zoning, allowing a 155-foot monstrosity to tower over us – way too big and too close. This would shatter the character of our neighborhood. This petitioned height is so outrageous that it is likely a ploy for making a later, lower, “compromise” upzoning look like a win for us. Even the 45-foot height allowed would be somewhat detrimental at our bordering end of the property; but it is the current zoning, and we expected we might to have to live beside that high a building. Any higher is just not acceptable or appropriate to the area.

Alexandria also owns the large complex next to that property, including the Kendall Square Cinema and parking garage. Any upzoning at Met Pipe would set a precedent that would open the floodgates for additional damaging upzoning around our quiet neighborhood of two-story houses, and in other residential neighborhoods throughout Cambridge.

Offering a strip of land along the Grand Junction is not a fair trade for spot zoning that ruins a residential neighborhood! The city has other ways to acquire and develop the land if Alexandria does not choose to make it the goodwill gift it should be. The company certainly has no other use for it.

None of us neighbors are opposed to a bike and pedestrian path; we merely want it addressed independently of the zoning.

Please sign our petition at http://chng.it/SnsfnZghrg.

Janice StClair and Michael Way
Linden Park Residents Association