Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Councillors Arroyo, Hennigan and Turner join with the
Chinese Progressive Association in Zoning Commission Lawsuit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

(Boston, MA) - Boston City Councillors Felix Arroyo, Maura Hennigan and Chuck Turner today joined with the Chinese Progressive Association in filing a lawsuit against the Boston Zoning Commission opposing their December 2003 decision to approve a Planned Development Area (PDA) plan for a proposed 30-story luxury housing tower by Kensington Investments, Inc. The plaintiffs also include concerned individuals representing the interests of community residents and affected neighborhood associations.

The official Complaint, filed this afternoon in the Land Court Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court, alleges that the Zoning Commission exceeded its authority by not adhering to the City's Zoning Code requirements covering the creation of so-called Planned Development Areas. The plaintiffs allege that, among other procedural irregularities, the Zoning Commission approved a PDA for Kensington Investments' project without ensuring that the PDA included the required one acre of land to be developed pursuant to an approved Development Plan.

The Complaint asks the Land Court to find that the action of the Zoning Commission exceeded the Commission's legal authority, to annul the decision of the Commission, and to otherwise ensure that the Kensington tower project proceeds only within the legal public planning and development process. No money damages are sought by any of the plaintiffs (see attached for additional background).

"I'm pleased that these City Councillors would choose to join our organization and the residents of Chinatown in opposing the Zoning Commission's improper actions in the Land Court," said Lydia Lowe of the Chinese Progressive Association. "Development deals like Kensington make a farce of the public process and the end result of that kind of project-by-project negotiation is the demise of any faith in the legitimacy of neighborhood planning in Boston."

"The Kensington project is inappropriate for the neighborhood, is opposed by most community residents, and is based on an unsupportable request for a significant zoning exception," said Councillor Felix Arroyo. "The Zoning Commission, in reviewing this project, was bound by their obligations to uphold the laws of the City of Boston. I support development of this site but this lawsuit seeks to ensure that the City continues to work within the established law to ensure that the surrounding community, neighborhood activists, the Boston City Council, and other interested parties are able to create an appropriate development plan."

"The Zoning Code exists to protect the well being of the people of the City of Boston, says at-Large Boston City Councillor Maura Hennigan. "When the Zoning Commission deviates from these standards a message is sent to developers and citizens alike that the system can be manipulated. The public has a right to be confident that the Zoning Commission will protect and uphold these standards," concluded Hennigan. Councillor Hennigan does not oppose development at the Kensington site but insists that it comply with City zoning laws and reflect community input.

"Although the Kensington project isn't my District, I enthusiastically join with my colleagues to oppose the Zoning Commission's improper actions and in support of the public planning process," said Councillor Chuck Turner. "What happened in Chinatown with Kensington could just as easily happen in Roxbury, Dorchester, or in other parts of District Seven."

Click here for Kensington PDA Lawsuit - Fact Sheet

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