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CAMBRIDGE, MA-A citywide petition here would like to see 17 districts rezoned as exclusively residential areas in order to increase affordable housing. A majority of the land involved is located in sections of East Cambridge and the industrial area of North Point.

“The rezoning presents significant issues for the business community,” Tom Lucey, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce president, tells GlobeSt.com. “It limits the ability of those with businesses already on the ground to refinance or sell their buildings or build out.”

Lucey emphasizes that he is not opposed to the concept of rezoning in order to increase housing options or even to all 17 district changes, but he believes that six to seven of the districts need to reconsidered. “Rezoning should be one tool that is in the city’s tool box, but there are going to be unintended consequences here,” he points out.

The financial impacts of the rezoning are still unclear but Lucey notes that it would have a real impact on the city’s bottom line because of the reduced tax base. He believes that growth of spending would be reduced by up to 20%.

The rezoning is one section of the petition that will be decided by the city council on Feb. 12. Other sections include a proposal to require projects over 25,000 sf to go through a documentation process and significant cuts to the commercial floor area ratio (FAR) zones, which in some areas would go up by nearly 50%. Included within this last proposal is the inclusion of structured parking within FAR and a limiting of rooftop mechanicals, which would directly impact the city’s biotech industry.

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