Jul 28, 2014
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20 People Who Will Sway Somerville Zoning Overhaul

The city moves to make significant changes to the way it plans and assesses real estate development.

The city Tuesday released the names of 20 people who will serve on a zoning advisory committee that will counsel officials as Somerville moves to enact its first major zoning overhaul in a generation.

According to an announcement from the city, the advisory committee will aid the mayor and the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development as they work to make significant changes to the city's zoning code.

The announcement says Somerville's most recent zoning overhaul was 23 years ago, and the codes haven't kept up with all the changes Somerville has undergone in that time.

Speaking to Somerville Patch in October of 2012, "

A 2012 report about Somerville's residence A and B zoning districts, which represent about 60 percent of Somerville's land space, said the codes are "too hard to navigate, vague in meaning, and contradictory in intended outcome." They also don't promote "smart growth," the report said.

In an statement accompanying Tuesday's announcement, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said, "An updated zoning ordinance, based on national best practices and local needs, will provide more clarity and certainty for the developers and residents alike."

George Proakis, Somerville's director of planning, said in a statement, "It is my hope that the zoning ordinance can protect residential neighborhoods while encouraging new transit-oriented development, and this advisory committee will help us determine the best way to achieve those goals."

The announcement said the advisory committee will "serve as a sounding board as the city develops strategies to develop the new Somerville by Design zoning ordinance that will implement the goals of the SomerVision Comprehensive Plan."

SomerVision is a conceptual roadmap for the future of the city that was approved in 2012, and Somerville by Design is a series of public forums, run this winter, that encouraged thoughts, ideas and opinions from the public about planning matters in the city.

So, who's serving on the zoning advisory committee? Here are the names:

  • Ward 4 Alderman Tony LaFuente
  • Brandy Brooks, SomerVision Steering Committee member
  • Natasha Burger, Historic Preservation Commission
  • Adam Dash, attorney
  • Rich DiGirolamo, attorney
  • Ben Dryer, contractor
  • Deborah Fennick, Design Review Committee
  • Susan Fontano, Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Lenore Hill, vice president at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
  • Tom Lichoulas, Ward 3 resident and developer
  • Courtney O’Keefe, Ward 5 resident
  • Kevin Prior, Planning Board
  • Peter Quinn, architect
  • Jeff Roberts, Ward 6 resident and planner
  • Kat Rutkin, Somerville Local First (Ed. note: Rutkin is also a Ward 2 resident. See comment below.)
  • Rebecca Schrumm, President of the Somerville Chamber of Commerce
  • Courtney Koslow, Ward 5 resident and developer
  • Mark Chase, Ward 3 resident
  • Phil Ercolini, Ward 1 resident
  • Anne Tate, Ward 4 resident

Residents of wards 2 and 7 will be interested to notice there are no residents—at least not any explicitly mentioned in Tuesday's announcement—from their neighborhoods. (Ed. note: We received a comment, see below, that Kat Rutkin is a Ward 2 resident. In another comment Courtney O'Keefe reached out to residents of Ward 7, saying she would welcome their thoughts and opinions as this process moves forward.)

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