Dozens of East Boston residents packed into a hearing Wednesday night to sound off against proposed zoning changes that many fear would impact their future in the city.
Perched up on a hill, the Orient Heights section of East Boston is mainly comprised of single-family homes and many residents who have called the area home voiced concerns that the changes would lead to more developments.
But the city says the zoning is outdated and that many properties in the neighborhood aren’t up to code.
“In this neighborhood, what we’re trying to do is, frankly, respond to neighbors concerns about outdated zoning that’s allowing bad things to happen,” said Arthur Jemison, the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s chief of planning.
The city’s plan would stipulate the size and shape of buildings.
“We want to create predictability, so we want to change zoning to make it more predictable and understandable,” he added.
But residents like Sean Cronin aren’t convinced.
“We’re surrounded by giant projects, and now we’re basically seeing PLAN East Boston give those developers a green light to overdevelop and take away that single-family neighborhood we wanted to live in,” he said.
The plan calls for splitting Orient Heights into two districts. One would allow no more than two units per building. The other would allow no more than three.
Joe Casamassima, of the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council, said, “What this plan will do is encourage, in our opinion, developers to come in and knock down single-family housing that’s been here for 100 years.”
Jemison said that’s not the case.
“Still sounds like we have a lot folks with questions and concerns, and that’s part of the job, to hear people out and to go to their neighborhood and understand better their concerns,” he said.
Many of those in attendance said they were happy that Mayor Wu was not on hand.
A representative for her office said questions would have to be deferred to the development agency.