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Boston needs a separate planning board to keep BRA clout in check

In “The BRA must stay” (Op-ed, June 4), Tom Keane writes that one “easy reform” of the Boston Redevelopment Authority would be to add the word “planning” to its title. That is not only a pretty silly suggestion, but a dangerous one as well.

Given the power the BRA now has to approve real estate development, we need an offset to its clout, and an offset to its reactive approach to development. An independent planning commission would take the long view of Boston’s development needs rather than allow the incremental development that results from the knee-jerk approval the BRA gives to almost all proposals before it.

It is infuriating to hear the BRA crow about the 15 or 20 public hearings the agency held on a given project when, in the end, the BRA ignores so-called public comments, except of course from the business community and the construction trade unions.

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It is also infuriating when the BRA holds public hearings, listens to 40 to 50 people give often complex and conflicting testimony, and then, without raising a question, and with little discussion, the agency votes unanimously to approve. This reeks of a back-room deal.

This BRA is cocky and unresponsive to the residents of Boston. Fundamental change is needed.

Don Carlson
Boston