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CAMBRIDGE, MA-A rezoning plan for East Cambridge here is finally being considered after nearly a year in the making. Should the petition be approved by the city council, the plan has implications for developers of residential projects here.

The petition to rezone East Cambridge was filed over a year and a half ago–as part of a comprehensive plan to rezone the entire city. At the time, the Cambridge City Council imposed an 18-month moratorium on development in the East Cambridge area, which ended in July. The East Cambridge Planning Study was established to evaluate options in this area. ECaPS became a year-long planning study for the area and was conducted by planners Goody, Clancy & Associates and a committee of 19 Cambridge citizens, planners, city officials and development interests.

According to Lisa Stuardi, director of government and community affairs at the Chamber of Commerce in Cambridge, the goal of the study was to create housing in this area. Stuardi notes that this inevitably includes an affordable housing component, as 15% of any residential development needs to be affordable.

The ECaPS Committee report–which was filed at the beginning of the summer–divided up East Cambridge into five primary zones with a different set of zoning recommendations for each area. Both the City Council Committee on Ordinance and the city’s planning board held hearings on the report and will make their final recommendations in time for the City Council to make its final ruling within two weeks.

Developers are awaiting this decision as its final ruling could impact whether their projects are able to go forward. It can get complicated as Stuardi points out that “in certain instances where people obtained permits prior to rezoning, the property may be subject to new zoning.”

In the North Point Section of East Cambridge, plans are underway to develop a residential neighborhood on a 51-acre parcel that is currently home to industrial houses and railroad tracks. Forty-five acres are owned by New Hampshire-based railroad and airline operator Guilford Transportation Industries and a little over six acres are owned by The Cambridge Company, which has chosen Virginia-based developer Charles E. Smith Co. to co-develop its parcel. But the rezoning of the area must be approved before this residential development is to go forward.

“It looks as if some form of ECaPS will pass,” Stuardi tells GlobeSt.com. “Most of the recommendations of the ECaPS report are being taken very seriously.” But, Stuardi notes, many groups have come forward with requests and those will probably be taken into account. “The City Council,” she says,” has the right to the final language of the petition.”

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