Four Councillors Call for Building Moratorium Regarding Parking ‘Crisis’

By Seth Daniel

Four Chelsea City Councillors called for a one-year moratorium on all building projects that cannot meet the off-street parking requirements spelled out in the City’s zoning regulations.

Councillors Enio Lopez, Yamir Rodriguez, Luis Tejada and Damli Vidot introduced a Council Order on Monday, Oct. 16, at the regular meeting that would call for the moratorium.

The matter was referred to a Committee on Conference, and due to some potential Charter conflict questions, the City Solicitor will be consulted.

“I want to have a conversation,” said Vidot. “We talked about a development moratorium a year ago. I want to talk about it now…We have a parking crisis in the city. At some point if we don’t find a way to fix this issue, we’re just going to be putting it on the backs of our constituents. District 4, 5, 6 and 7 have these issues. We need to put pressure on our city manager. If we continue to allow developers to come in here without any parking, what are we doing? Are we just trying to make money here? That doesn’t sit well with me.”

The moratorium proposal isn’t called for on all building, but only those that require variances or special permits in order to build without the required numbers of parking spots. Those permits are given out by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) in Chelsea.

“I don’t think it’s a bad idea to sit down and have a conversation about one of the hottest topics in the city,” said Councillor Tejada. “It’s not a bad idea to have a conversation.”

Said Lopez, “We shouldn’t stop all building, but we need parking in the city. It’s a big issue and a big concern in all the city. In my district, it’s a huge issue. The moratorium is only for people who are coming to do something and need parking relief.”

Some councillors weren’t as enthusiastic.

Council President Leo Robinson said that many have discussed having a City parking garage constructed, but he pointed out the costs for such a thing hover around $60,000 per space.

Councillor Matt Frank, who was a proponent of a City garage at one time, said he isn’t a fan of a moratorium – mostly because the City is depending on money from development to pay for the services constituents expect.

“If the City brings in money and revenue from development, that money goes back out the door in services,” he said. “If we talk about a year moratorium on anything, I want to talk about what that will do to those services. Our 5-year forecast anticipates we will get more money from new development…I don’t care if we build more or less, but I want the City to think about if you take a dollar away, you can’t spend a dollar. Where will you now get that dollar?”

The matter has yet to have a Conference scheduled.

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