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Lower Common Neighborhood Conservation District Study
(This study was suspended by vote the Historical Commission on June 28, 2007)

On October 8, 2004, the Cambridge Historical Commission voted to accept a petition and initiate a neighborhood conservation district study, per the procedures of Ch. 2.78, Article III of the city code, for the Lower Common neighborhood.  Seven study committee members were appointed by the City Manager in January 2005. The city code calls for members to come from the neighborhood and from the membership of the Cambridge Historical Commission. The appointed members were Jacob Albert, M. Wyllis Bibbins, Dennis Carlone, Robert Hunt, William B. King, Peggy Kutcher, and Maurice Lesses.

The Lower Common NCD Study Committee was appointed in response to neighborhood concerns about inappropriate rehabilitation of older houses and the future of the Radcliffe Quad. The Committee met in public sessions on about 40 occasions, held seven adver-tised public information sessions and a walking tour, and published a newsletter. In November 2006 the Committee voted to recommend the adoption of a neighborhood conservation district that would regulate demolition, new construction, and other significant publicly visible exterior altera-tions in the area roughly bounded by Chauncey, Garden, and Linnaean streets and Massachusetts Avenue. That recommendation was published in the report of the Study Committee dated December 1, 2006. Additionally, the staff prepared a summary of the report.

The Cambridge Historical Commission held public hearings on the proposal in February and March 2007, and in response to public comment requested that the Study Committee re-evaluate its recommendations with regard to jurisdiction and consider certain changes to its report.

The Study Committee met three more times, and on May 30 decided unanimously that it could no longer recommend the adoption of the proposed district because of insufficient public support. Many of the members felt that the Committee’s recommendations were sound, but that the time was not right. They recommended that the Cambridge Historical Commission continue to post the Report on its website, not only because of its excellent history of the development of the Lower Common neighborhood, but also because of its valuable suggestions and guidelines for owners wishing to make alterations to their properties.

On June 28, 2007, the Historical Commission had a public hearing to hear the revised recommendations of the study committee and public testimony was taken. The Historical Commission voted unanimously to accept the revised recommendations of the study committee, as summarized in the staff memorandum of 06/13/07, to suspend the study and not forward the matter to the City Council at the present time, but to keep open the possibility of revisiting the idea in the future, and to direct the staff to continue to make the Study Report available to the public on the city's website. The Commission commended the study committee for their hard work and thanked them for their service and dedication.

Property owners and residents of the neighborhood who want advice or technical support as they begin a renovation, repair, or other construction project are encouraged to contact the staff of the Historical Commission at any point in the future.

--July 5, 2007

Below are links to documents related to the study.

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