Bongiovanni Said There Was No ‘Mistake’ Made in Zoning Vote

One week after being taken to task at the Council meeting by Council President Roy Avellaneda on a failed zoning vote, GreenRoots Director Roseann Bongiovanni said her words were twisted and there was no “mistake” made on the vote.

Avellaneda had taken Bongiovanni’s advocacy against more dense development in several established neighborhoods to task on April 5, saying that he had helped her find a home with a backyard many years ago – and it was a home few in Chelsea could now afford. He said her advocacy against more development, more affordable home ownership, actually prevented Chelsea families from owning the kind of home she and her children have.

Bongiovanni said her words were twisted, and that Avellaneda just didn’t understand the value of even a small patch of open space for parents with children.

“If you don’t have experience raising children you probably don’t under value any patch of grass,” she said. “Especially in a pandemic if you don’t have experience raising children, it becomes a whole different experience when you’re in lockdown with children. They need somewhere to go – even on a tiny patch of grass. For us not to think of the long-term impacts of eliminating backyards and side yards, that’s just not right. We have to realize the fact that we’re developing our community to the detriment of the health of our community.”

The zoning package presented to the Council in March was lumped together in one big package, which was an issue many have pointed to. While the more controversial zoning density increases drew great attention, less controversial pieces dealing with other matters got voted down as well.

Bongiovanni said that was the “mistake” that was made.

“I feel like the mistake that happened was a procedural matter on the Council’s part,” she said. “They lumped all zoning proposals in one package. That was the mistake and not community advocacy against density.”

She added that she believes her words were taken out of context by Avellaneda.

“I think Roy took out of context what I said about my children playing in the backyard,” she said. “I said in a point of privilege I was grateful for that open space and that every child in Chelsea should have a backyard or side yard to play in…”

She said it is important for the City officials not to criticize those asking for conversations, but rather begin talking about those issues.

“I think now is a perfect time to push these zoning conversations and talk about long-term impacts of the decisions we’re making now,” she continued.

Both Avellaneda and Councillor Giovanni Recupero on Monday reintroduced the measures about increased zoning density in the established neighborhoods, sending them for review again at the Planning Board.

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