Councilors Edwards, Wu to Hold East Boston Master Plan Hearing on Monday July 16

In response to the development boom in the neighborhood, District 1 City Councilor Lydia Edwards introduced an order calling for a hearing regarding an East Boston Master Plan.

An East Boston Master Plan will provides a framework for new growth and development in the community’s commercial districts and waterfront area, while preserving and enhancing the quality of life in the community’s residential neighborhoods.

This week Edwards announced she and Councilor Michelle Wu will hold a public hearing on planning for East Boston on Monday, July 16, at 6 p.m. at the Mario Umana Academy, 312 Border Street.

The hearing is intended to clarify the process and timeline for community planning and zoning initiatives and solicit input from members of the public to identify top concerns of the community. Officials from the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) and members of the Walsh administration will attend.

Edwards originally called for a Master Plan on May 9 with the support of Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Joseph Boncore, following repeated requests from the neighborhood to move forward on housing affordability, climate resiliency and transportation. The BPDA announced PLAN: East Boston–a neighborhood-wide planning initiative that is in the early stages of designing the long-term planning process.

“Now is the time for residents of East Boston to shape the future of our neighborhood and model a truly community-led development process,” said Edwards. “I look forward to hearing from East Boston neighborhoods on priorities and strategies for building a vibrant, resilient, affordable community.”

The last Master Plan for the neighborhood was finished in 2000 and while many of the recommendations like the creation of new open space, waterfront development and mixed-use development were implemented, the neighborhood has been clamoring for an updated Master Plan in order to keep up with the fast growth of development.

“When we are dealing with the amount of new development that we experiencing now and every project seems to be a new idea, a height or a new density variances tend to become the rule and not the exception,” said Edwards. “What people say we are developing is ‘spot zoning’ and it is not a cohesive vision for our community. But a Master Plan provides that cohesive vision and allows us to drive the bus and not be driven by it.”

With the 163-acre Suffolk Downs site slated for a massive development by HYM Investment LLC and pockets of Eastie’s waterfront down by Condor Street and Border Street ripe for future development, Edwards feels the time is right to update the Master Plan.

Last month Walsh announced Eastie was chosen as one of five neighborhoods that will be part of the BPDA’s planning initiative. Eastie will join Mattapan, Newmarket, Allston-Brighton and Downtown in an Imagine Boston 2030-guided effort to ‘preserve, enhance and grow’ the neighborhood.

According to Walsh, the city will work closely with Eastie community groups, community leaders and other stakeholders to ensure decisions made by the city are following the guiding principles of “preserves wisely, enhances equitably, and grows inclusively”.

As part of the initiative in Eastie a comprehensive planning will include a focus on balancing contextually-sensitive development alongside preservation. There will also be a focus on supporting existing residents and businesses through increased access to opportunity, affordability strategies, and anti-displacement policies.

Walsh said one of the highlights in Eastie will be improving the public realm and access to open space and neighborhood-serving amenities, addressing mobility challenges, and supporting neighborhood resiliency and preparing for climate change.

The BPDA is also exploring moving forward with an Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) in Eastie residential neighborhoods. An IPOD is an interim zoning tool that is used to maintain increased public review and community process in the evaluation of proposed new development during a planning process.

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