Community Conversation on Zoning Kicks Off in Chelsea

A new effort is kicking off in Chelsea this month to create a dialogue with residents about local development. The City of Chelsea has partnered with the Anti-Displacement Roundtable and the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) to offer a four session Community Conversation Series on zoning and land use. This series is intended to give residents a deeper understanding of how zoning has shaped the Chelsea of today, and how zoning can contribute to a more equitable Chelsea of the future.

The first session and second session took place on March 29 and April 13 at the Clark Avenue School.

The remaining sessions in the Community Conversation Series are slated for May 4, and May 18 at the same location at the Clark Avenue School. There will be more information soon on the content of these sessions.

Zoning is a set of guidelines, decided on by each municipality, that dictates the size, shape, purpose, and location of any new development. Historically, zoning has been responsible for reinforcing patterns of segregation and was often used to concentrate environmental hazards in lower-income communities. Today, outdated zoning often prevents communities from creating the housing opportunities they want and need. This first session will cover the history of zoning and land use in Chelsea, and will feature presentations from City staff, CHAPA, and GreenRoots. Attendees will have the opportunity to start to share their vision for the future of Chelsea.

“Zoning decisions can have an impact on communities for decades to come. COVID-19 showed us that our zoning policies have not prioritized people and our health.  We have an opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of our past and make them right so that we can be a healthier, strong community,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots, which convenes the Anti-Displacement Roundtable. “I am excited about launching this process because it will in fact move us in the right direction.”

The Chelsea Anti-Displacement Roundtable is a multi-stakeholder coalition of community based organizations, elected officials, and community leaders that works to strategize and organize towards policy and programmatic solutions to the housing crisis in our community.  The Roundtable members work together to defend housing as a human right, protect residents from displacement, and mitigate the impacts of development by advocating for solutions at the local level while working with allies across the region and State.

“I hope many different residents are able to come out to these zoning workshops. If you don’t know what zoning is or how it is relevant to your quality of life, you are exactly the person we want to see,” said Oriana Reilly, Housing and Community Preservation Coordinator, City of Chelsea. “Zoning’s really an invisible set of rules that shapes the environment you walk through every day, what the buildings look like, what your house looks like, and whether you live near a park or a factory,”

“We are excited to host these community conversations on zoning so that, going forward, we can ensure that the City’s Zoning Ordinance better reflects the community’s vision for life in Chelsea,” said Tom Ambrosino, City Manager of Chelsea.

Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) is a statewide housing advocacy non-profit, which promotes the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate-income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development. CHAPA is supporting the efforts in Chelsea through their Municipal Engagement Initiative.

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