Attend meetings about new board member stipends, children’s emotional support pools and more

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These are just a few of the town meetings and civic events for the week ahead. More are on the City calendar and in the city Meetings portal open.

The Board of Zoning Appeal is hearing a case related to chicken this week. (Photo: Zoning Appeal Board)

Remuneration of the members of the board of directors; car park

municipal Council5:30 p.m. Monday. City staff have a comprehensive report on how to diversify councils and commissions which are expected to see a number of changes implemented over the course of 2023 and 2024, but the change which will be most immediately evident is the introduction allowances for planning board, zoning appeals board and history. Commission members in January – annual salary of $6,000, $3,500 and $2,500 respectively to recognize members’ “substantial volunteer hours compared to other boards and commissions”. For the year beginning October 2021, the Planning Board held 38 meetings; the BZA held 23; and the Historical Commission has held 14. “Each of these meetings can last three to five hours and include hours of preparation in advance. In comparison, many other councils and commissions meet for two hours or less about 10 times a year,” according to City Manager Yi-An Huang’s report. The report also suggests that 10-15 years of membership is likely ideal for “fresh leadership and diverse perspectives”, but a need for flexibility advises against setting term limits.

Advisors should consider three changes to their own rules, including one simply asking advisors to speak more concisely. This meeting also sees the return of a motion shelved last week for city staff to assess the interacting effects of a variety of development-oriented ordinances that some felt were daunting in their “scope” and would burden a community development department already overburdened. Councilor Marc McGovern said he wanted time to ask. This is also the last week for the council to deal with scrapping citywide parking minimums; the petition expires on November 1.

The council meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.


Board Rules Changes

Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee10 a.m. Tuesday. This committee led by Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon is reviewing potential changes to City Council rules. Monday’s council meeting will see three from a previous committee hearing: that council rules are to be revised and provisionally adopted near the start of each new term; that all motions require a second before debate; and that “during the debate, each adviser will state their comments in a clear and concise manner, with the understanding that the other members are waiting to present their comments”. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.

Conservation District Response

Neighborhood and long-term planning, public amenities, arts and celebrations committeefrom 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday. This committee led by Councilman Dennis Carlone is hearing a response from the Historical Commission to an attempt to change the law on creating neighborhood conservation districts. The idea comes from Loren Crowe, a staunch opponent of the East Cambridge borough’s conservation district being assessed by a Historical Commission panel as part of the process he hopes to change. The commission’s response by Executive Director Charlie Sullivan resists some changes while suggesting greater consideration of “community goals which may from time to time be expressed by City Council, including the need to provide additional housing, affordable and others”; change membership terms to allow tenants; and the expansion of study committees to “allow for the representation of a wider range of viewpoints”.

The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.

The best, the worst of the city charter

Charter Review Committee5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The committee, tasked with reviewing the overhaul of a governing document largely untouched for more than 80 years, will examine the aspects of the charter that members find most troubling – or that they applaud. Watchable by Zoom videoconference.

Improvements for the technical school

School committee round table6 p.m. Tuesday. Members will delve into improvement plans for the Rindge School of Technical Arts, the city’s vocational high school program. The committee meets in the Dr. Henrietta S. Attles Meeting Room at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway, Mid-Cambridge. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.

More space for the Broad Institute

planning board6:30 p.m. Tuesday. A lighter-than-usual agenda as the board considers it: a request from the Broad Institute to create 14,000 square feet of labs and office space from mechanical space on the 12th floor of its building 75 Ames St., Kendall Square; rules for developers who require in-person and remote engagement with the community about their projects; and the withdrawal of a Davis Cos. called Fifteen Wilson. It would combine the addresses of 40 Smith Place and 45–55 Wilson Road to construct a four-story, 280,046 square foot office building with commercial use on the ground floor and underground parking for 323 vehicles in the Alewife area. Quadrangle – where there happens to be a moratorium on new office and lab space in place. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.


Net Zero Action Plan Update

Health & Environment CommitteeWednesday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This committee, led by Councilwoman Patty Nolan, is examining the next steps in implementing and updating the city’s Net Zero action plan to address greenhouse gas emissions. Watchable by Zoom videoconference.

Restart the “binding” process

Orders CommitteeWednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This committee led by councilors Marc McGovern and Quinton Zondervan picks up where last week’s council meeting left off. That ended a year-long process to raise the “bond” fee that pays for affordable housing to $33.34 per square foot from $20.10, and now comes the next iteration of that. process that begins with the need for a “bond” study to set rates. The value of tweaking the formula means that this link study will ask and answer more questions than previous versions. The committee meets at City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square. Televised and watchable by Zoom videoconference.


Houses, Not Dunkin; a chicken fight

Zoning Appeal BoardThursday from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Six houses – two units each in three four-storey buildings – could replace a Dunkin’ Donuts at 8 Winter St., East Cambridge, which is on the Monsignor O’Brien Highway opposite the funky Cambridge Antiques Market building . Basic zoning would allow up to 19 units here, but these are family sized, says the petitioner. Also on the agenda is a request to allow an 8-year-old autistic child to keep chickens he has raised for the past five years as emotional support animals. Inspectorate sends cease-and-desist letter saying “livestock are not allowed in town” and threatening legal action and $300-a-day fines; the child’s mother has a letter from a licensed clinical psychologist saying the loss of the chickens would hurt the child, and offers more accommodation to ‘reduce the impact’ at a site which is already bordered on two sides by Belmont Cemetery. “I chose to be a Cambridge resident and homeowner precisely because of the city’s support and care for children with special needs,” the child’s mother wrote. After keeping chickens and bees in Cambridge became an issue in 2010 and 2014, the city council passed a bee zoning amendment in December 2017 and an urban farming task force came up with a guide that has was published in June 2019. It deals extensively with bees and barely chickens. at all, however. “Officially keeping chickens is banned in Cambridge,” Khrysti Smyth Barry, a local chicken expert, said in 2018. “That said, many people in Cambridge also have chickens. [but] have no protection if something happens.

The board meets at the Citywide Senior Center, 806 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square.

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