Mayor Carlo DeMaria wasted no time in getting the process started for the proposed zoning changes under consideration for the Exxon Mobil site on Lower Broadway that came on the market in the past few weeks when he appeared before the City Council during a special meeting last week.
“There are endless opportunities to benefit our residents,” said DeMaria, referring not only to the Exxon site — which the firm of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (JLL), a global commercial real estate services company, already has begun marketing — and combined with other adjoining parcels total more than 96 acres in the Lower Broadway District on the Charlestown line.
“We can remove this blighted industrial area and replace it with 21st century bio-pharma, medical manufacturing, and/or life science companies,” DeMaria said. He also added that the COO of Mass Bio has expressed real interest in locating to the site.
Council President Wayne Matewsky, who lives near the site, described the current owners as “not the greatest neighbors,” adding, “I am in favor of protecting the acres to make it decent.”
DeMaria wants to change the zoning and reclassify the sites from heavy manufacturing to light manufacturing. With this change, the city and residents can have a greater say in the development of the site.
“A zoning change will dictate future use and prevent another dirty use for the site,” DeMaria said.
Also appearing before the council was Matthew Latanzi, the Acting Planning Director, who explained to the council the reasoning behind the proposed zoning change.
“These changes will align that area to go into the Broadway Development District Zone and bring to the site the special employment section,” said Latanzi. This change could create thousands of jobs.
What had councillors a little hesitant to approve the motion to send the proposed zoning changes to the Planning Board was that the actual changes were not originally in the packet for the councilors.
“I love the vision for the area and I am in favor, but we need more information,” said Councilor Stephanie Martins.
Councilor John Hanlon echoed his colleague’s concerns, saying, ”We have not seen the amendment and there is nothing in front of us. You are asking us to vote on an empty envelope.”
DeMaria then apologized for not having the zoning change put in the councillors’ packets, but produced copies for the councilors. After reviewing the changes, Matewsky said, “I vote in favor.” He also expressed reservations about the environmental clean-up of the site adding, “Why shouldn’t Exxon do the cleanup?”
Nonetheless, Councilor Jimmy Tri Le added, “There is no better location to be developed. I cannot wait to see the project.”
Councilor Fred Capone expressed concerns about changing the zoning while the property already is being marketed alluding to depleting the cost of the land for the seller , but added, ”This takes us into the 21st century — this is what we want.”
DeMaria mentioned that he is looking for the highest and best use of the property.
“We as a City have the opportunity to strategically shape our future. With the right zoning and strategic vision, we can continue to transform and reimagine Everett to remove blighted, industrial areas and replace them with 21st century commercial enterprises such as bio-tech and bio-pharma that create new job opportunities for our residents and new tax revenue that can continue to support the programs and services that are important to our residents. The redevelopment of this area of the City also will benefit from its proximity to a rail system for the transportation of goods and workers that will reduce reliance on roadway transportation, said DeMaria”.
During the meeting, it was brought up that the site has both railroad tracks and access to the waterfront. DeMaria pointed out that Everett finally could get rail transit at the site with at least one station, if not two, that could ease traffic volume in the city.
Returning to Matewsky’s concern about the potential clean-up of the site, Hanlon had questions about the possible contaminated soil. DeMaria said that he is working with federal and state officials on this potential problem, but the process has just started.
The Council voted unanimously to send the zoning change request to the Planning Board, which will hear the matter at its October 25 meeting.
Then, after the Planning Board’s vote, the matter will come back to the City Council, which then will decide whether to approve the actions of the Planning Board at the council’s November 8 meeting.
Copy of the proposed zoning ordinance
In accordance with the provisions of Section 12 of the Zoning Ordinances of the City of Everett the city council hereby amends the zoning ordinance as follows:
Section 30 Lower Broadway Economic Development District (“LBEDD”)
Amend Section C Establishment of District and Subdistrict Boundaries by amending the Zoning Map to include parcels in subdistrict LB-E: Lower Broadway, Employment
Section 30 of the Lower Broadway Economic Development District (LBEDD) Appendix A: Table of Use Regulations
Use: Heavy manufacturing providing there is no outside storage work and there are no emissions of noxious odors, smoke or noise, and no vibration discernible on the exterior of the building. Amending by deleting “SP” allowed use by special permit and insert “-“ to signify use not permitted
Use: Light manufacturing (excluding scrap metal), producing, processing, fabricating, printing, converting, altering, finishing or assembling, entirely contained within the structure with no associated emissions of noxious odors or noise, on a scale requiring not more than a total of five horsepower or steam pressure in excess of 15 pounds gauge pressure. Amending by deleting “Y” allowed use and insert “SP“ to signify use allowed by special permit.
Storage of goods in containers where all storage is contained within the building, not including storage of any raw or natural materials. Amending by deleting “Y” allowed use and insert “SP“ to signify use allowed by special permit.