Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administrative team made a bold request Monday night before a Joint Convention of the Common Council and Board of Aldermen, to establish a new Everett Redevelopment Authority and an accompanying Urban Renewal Plan for the Lower Broadway neighborhood.
According to the administration and planning and development department, the new Redevelopment Authority would be directed to bring to life the Lower Broadway Master Plan that was developed through community participation last year, as well as the proposed Wynn Casino and Resort, should that proposal win a state gaming license next year.
However, the mayor’s proposal was met with a less than enthusiastic response by some members of the two legislative branches, as some councilors and aldermen showed a lack of understanding about the process and need for a redevelopment authority, while others based their skepticism on misinformation about the powers a new Redevelopment Authority would have and the potential for eminent domain land takings of private property in the neighborhood.
Assistant City Solicitor David Rodrigues and Planning and Development Director James Errickson offered explanations about the goals of the Mayor’s requests and the urban renewal planning process, but following an hour of sometimes heated debate and exchanges, the Joint Convention voted 17-3 to recommend that the Common Council refer the three motions contained in the request to the Committee on Rules and Ordinances, for further discussion and research, before moving the request to a vote.
When the Common Council convened their meeting less than an hour later, the recommendation of the Joint Convention was followed with one exception. The first motion, which would effectively make a zoning change in the Everett Zoning Ordinance, was instead referred to the Everett Planning Board, where a draft zoning motion will be taken up in public session and discussed separately, before being voted on and sent back to the Council for a vote on adoption.
The other two motions that comprise the Mayor’s request were forwarded to the Rules and Ordinance Committee, and will be placed on the agenda for a September meeting.
In the meantime, Chief of Staff Melissa Rodrigues was called by the Council to schedule a public meeting for the Lower Broadway to discuss the proposal with the neighborhood and clear up any misinformation and concerns from property owners who maybe wary of the purposes of a Redevelopment Authority.
Following the meeting on Monday night, Mayor Carlo DeMaria told the Independent that after hearing peoples’ concern that he will be holding a series of public meetings about the role of a redevelopment authority. “These meeting will better explain the process and procedure of a redevelopment authority. My administration has always been open and listens to the concerns of the residents. We strive to make the City of Everett a better place for everyone.” DeMaria said.