City councillors unanimously passed an order Monday night proposed by Council President Leo Robinson calling for an entire Master Planning process for Chelsea.
The call comes on the heels of the 692-unit, two-building apartment complex being approved on Everett Avenue in the space where Chelsea Clock once existed. Developer William Thibeault was approved for a special permit at the Zoning Board last week, though he still needs to get a Site Plan approval from the Planning Board.
“The last Master Plan to my knowledge was done in 1971,” said Robinson. “I feel we have a lot of different development and we need to get a handle on what is progress and what is not progress. We need to decide as a community what residents want and the City wants in terms of development. I disagree entirely with the 692-unit proposal across from Chelsea High School. The fact that we’re going to allow the Chelsea Clock building – part of Chelsea’s history – to be bulldozed down instead of being re-used for retail space is a travesty…If we have a plan, these things may not happen to us.”
Councillor Paula Barton also agreed.
“I am frequently disappointed when I attend planning or zoning meetings,” she said. “Everything passes with conditions. They’re coming to us because they don’t meet our guidelines and yet everything passes. The first one I’ve seen in a long time that didn’t pass was the cabaret club on Beacham Street. That’s the only one.”
Councillor Matt Frank said he also agreed that it was time to think about planning for development – something he experienced first-hand last year during the proposal for affordable housing on the old French Club site.
“I agree with the call for a Master Plan,” he said. “I would emphasize we need more communication. It’s not that we need more development or less development, but that we need to all be on board.”
Councillor Calvin Brown said part of the Master Plan should be early community involvement.
“We need to know what’s going on in the early stages so we can all have input,” he said. “If we sit down and figure out priorities and target spots to develop, that could really help…I also hope we look at the large amount of three-families that are being bought and converted to condos. That’s another thing we have to look at within this.”
Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he believes a plan can be done.
“You can’t put 12 ounces in an eight ounce can,” he said. “We’re a 1.8 square mile community and how much more can we squeeze in. We need to also make sure these developments coming in have affordable housing. We don’t have a say. They just shove it down our throats and we have to vote on it.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda also indicated he supported the call for a Master Plan.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said earlier in the summer that he believes a Master Plan might be a worthy pursuit and he plans to act on Robinson’s call.