The Quincy City Council has shifted the power to approve or deny redevelopment plans for the Quincy Medical Center site to the city’s Planning Board, and also lowered the density of units allowed at the site and the height of the buildings.
The change was initiated by City Council President Kirsten Hughes, whose district includes the hospital site at 114 Whitwell St., and was given unanimous support by the Planning Board and the blessing of the Hospital Hill Neighborhood Association.
City solicitor James Timmins said the thinking behind the measure is that if the City Council votes on a development at the hospital site, it cannot also advocate on behalf of neighbors there.
The council had run into legal trouble in the past when councilors offered their opinions on certain development projects and then also voted on them, Timmins told the Planning Board at its Dec. 13 meeting.
Councilors voted 7-2 on Dec. 18 to approve the change.
“You can’t be an advocate and be a neutral arbiter at the same time,” Councilor Brian Palmucci said.
Councilor Joe Finn, in his last meeting before his retirement from the council, voted against the change, saying the council shouldn’t give up its power to an appointed board. He said the Planning Board’s site plan review process is much quicker than the council’s review process for Planned Unit Development districts, such as the hospital site.
The measure reduces the height of new buildings at the site from eight to six stories and also reduces the density allowed for Planned Unit Developments.
FoxRock, a real estate company, bought the hospital property but has not announced plans for the site.
The company detailed several options in a November meeting with neighbors, including using the property for assisted living and apartments, but company officials said no decisions have been made.
The only use at the site currently is an emergency room run by Steward, which will operate through 2021.