Councilors withdraw rezoning plan for Fort
By Patrick Anderson
May 07, 2009 05:50 am
Amended, maligned and stripped of its hotel by more than a year of withering criticism, the city's plan to rezone the Fort neighborhood and ease restrictions on development is dead.
City Council withdrew the plan Tuesday after the latest round of talks with planners and Fort stakeholders failed to produce an acceptable compromise.
The plan had already been almost completely refashioned from the proposal drawn up by Mayor Carolyn Kirk's administration last year that centered around language clearing the way for a hotel on the former Bird's Eye warehouse building on Commercial Street.
Councilors on Tuesday said all of the changes and modifications to the plan had rendered it almost unrecognizable and at this point there was confusion about what the plan was supposed to accomplish.
"After a year-and-a-half of meetings, we all can agree a change is needed, but have lost all focus on what the change would be," Councilor Joseph Ciolino said.
"I think what became clear is that we were all heading in different directions," Councilor Philip Devlin said.
The Fort is zoned for marine industrial use, but includes dozens of non-conforming residential units.
While some property owners have looked for economic relief from zoning changes that will allow them to bring in residential and mixed uses, residents and other business owners argued that the changes would lead to condominiums, gentrification and a threat to the fishing industry.
The loudest outrage in the historic neighborhood, central to the city's fishing community and industry, has been reserved for the idea of a hotel.
Councilors indicated that they will request the Planning Board begin work on a new Fort rezoning plan.
Patrick Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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