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 Committee Report

Committee Report #3


In City Council December 3, 2012

Councillor David P. Maher, Chair  
Councillor Leland Cheung  
Mayor Henrietta Davis  
Councillor Marjorie C. Decker  
Councillor Craig A. Kelley  
Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves  
Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons  
Councillor Timothy J. Toomey  
Councillor Minka vanBeuzekom  

The Ordinance Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 beginning at 4:40 P.M. in the Sullivan Chamber. 

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the zoning petition filed by Patty Chen, et al. to amend the Zoning Ordinance in Section 20.300 Central Square Overlay District in Section 20.304.5 Use Limitations and Restrictions.

Present at the hearing were Councillor David Maher, Chair of the Committee, Councillor Minka van Beuzekom, Councillor Leland Cheung, Mayor Henrietta Davis, Jeff Roberts and Liza Paden Neighborhood Planners, Community Development Department (CDD) and Interim City Clerk Donna P. Lopez.

Also present were Patty Chen and Mark Shulman, 85 Windsor Street, Attorney Sean Hope, 130 Bishop Allen Drive, Carlon Assells, 74 Prospect Street and Howie Model, 97 Columbia Street.

Councillor Maher convened the hearing and explained the purpose.   He stated that the committee was in receipt of a communication from the Central Square Business Association in support of the expansion of night club use within the Central Square Overlay District (ATTACHMENT A).   A presentation was made by Attorney Sean Hope, representing the petitioners and owners of the All Asia Café.  This proposal is a modest amendment to the Central Square Overlay District which was adopted 20 years ago.  The Central Square Overlay District has a requirement that establishments that have entertainment and alcohol must have it principal entrance on Massachusetts Avenue or Main Street.  All Asia is located on Massachusetts Avenue and has contributed to the vibrancy of Central Square and offers live music.  Due to changes in the property at their currently location All Asia has to move.  The new location of the All Asia is 675 Massachusetts Avenue.  Even though the address is on Massachusetts Avenue the entrances is on Prospect Street.  This amendment is to change the allowed requirement for the stretch of Prospect Street from Bishop Allen Drive to Massachusetts Avenue.  A previous proposal was found to be too broad.  This proposal narrows the request and allows the stretch of Prospect Street from Bishop Allen Drive to Massachusetts to be used as the principal entrance.  This area has the same use as what is allowed on Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street.  This would not be a change to the commercial use on Prospect Street.

The Planning Board will be holding its hearing on November 20, 2012 on this petition.

Mayor Davis stated that this proposal is a modest change that accommodates the use.  She felt that this amendment to the Zoning Ordinances this should move forward.  She is in support of the petition.  She stated that when Forest City proposed taking down the All Asia block the concerns was for the loss of live music.

Councillor Cheung stated that this petition should move forward with a positive recommendation.  When the petition for Forest City was submitted the concerns was for the All Asia block.  He spoke about startups and that All Asia has produced artists that have gone on to greater things.  He expressed his support for the petition.

Councillor vanBeuzekom also stated her support for the petition.  The previous petition was too broad.  This petition is better.  She is looking forward to All Asia moving in and the vibrancy that this move will bring.  The corner of Prospect and Bishop Allen Drive she can envision this area being livened. 

Councillor Maher asked what the square footage is of the current All Asia space and the new space.  Mr. Shulman responded the current space is 32,000 square feet and the new space is 53,000 square feet.  He stated that he has been in Cambridge for 20 years and this proposal is not a negative use and will not disrupt the neighborhood. 

Ms. Patty Chen stated that she started her first business in 1992.  As a traditional Chinese woman she appreciates Cambridge for the opportunity to conduct business.

The meeting was opened to public comment on a motion by Councillor Maher.

Carlon Assells, 74 Prospect Street stated that in Central Square there is only one site for a live upcoming band.  He supported this zoning proposal.

Howie Model, 97 Columbia Street, stated that this is a great move.  He recorded his support.

John Clifford, 55 Aberdeen Avenue, supported the move to Prospect Street.  He stated that the President of Berkeley College thinks this is an important place for bands starting out.

At 4:55 PM Councillor Cheung made a motion to close public comment.  The motion carried.

Councillor Maher stated that he is glad that All Asia wants to stay in Cambridge.  He is glad that All Asia is expanding. The City Council is looking to keep Central Square vibrant and this is a step in that direction.

Councillor vanBeuzekom made a motion that the petition be referred to the full City Council with a favorable recommendation.  The motion carried.  However, Councillor Maher stated that the City Council will await a written report from the Planning Board.

Councillor Maher thanked all those present for their attendance.

The hearing adjourned at 4:56 PM on motion of Councillor Cheung.                                                     

For the Committee,

Councillor David P. Maher, Chair
Ordinance Committee




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