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letters | cambridge in transition

Push for power shift in City Council stems from development concerns

Google formally opened its expanded campus this month in Kendall Square.

Wendy MAeda/Globe Staff

Google formally opened its expanded campus this month in Kendall Square.

Paul McMorrow’s column on planning in Cambridge (“Building tension,” Op-ed, Aug. 12) neglects to note that this city has the Plan E form of municipal government; most powers are vested in the city manager, but major zoning decisions are reserved for the City Council. The election of newcomers Dennis Carlone and Nadeem Mazen to the council and the defeat of long-term incumbent Ken Reeves represented growing concerns shared by many Cambridge residents that corporate developers were undermining the city community with oversize projects.

With more than 20 million square feet of new construction underway, many thousands of additional employees and new residents will be traveling into, out of, and through Cambridge. The city is on the verge of being choked by the congestion from the 60,000 to 70,000 additional car trips a day estimated for current and planned developments.

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Planning Board members have been appointed for decades by the pro-development former city manager, Robert Healy, and the board has a sparse record of consideration of community concerns or sound urban planning practices. The Carlone petition is intended to ensure that the City Council carries out its governance responsibilities with respect to the granting of special permits for large projects — those over 50,000 square feet.

Jonathan King


The writer is cochairman of the Cambridge Residents Alliance.

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