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Candidate Q&A on Development, Role of City Council and the Boston Planning & Development Agency [Video]

In this first of a series of posts, we are highlighting specific resident questions from the recent District 1 City Council Candidates Forum hosted by the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC). The three candidates running to fill the seat being vacated by Sal LaMattina are Lydia Edwards, Margaret Farmer and Stephen Passacantilli. District 1 includes the North End, Charlestown and East Boston.

Regarding development, how do you see the relationship between the City Council and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA, formerly BRA)? 

Answers (excerpts only, see above video for full response):

Lydia Edwards:

I think the relationship is unique and I would like for it to be improved. We have planning and development in the same house. In 2017, we need to reassess whether that model is sustainable.

Having worked in the City myself, I know one of the most important powers of the City Council is to call a hearing and demand answers. We should do more of that.

If elected, I would like to have all the variances being sought on a website. I think the City Council should have more transparency about what is being approved.

Margaret Farmer:

I believe the relationship between the BPDA and the City Council is the reverse from what it should be. The BPDA is incredibly autonomous.

In particular, I believe we should push for master plans for each community and be proactive instead of reactive.

I would like to see the planning arm separated from the economic development arm. I think it causes issues having the two under the same roof.

Stephen Passacantilli:

In this age of technology, I think we need to do a better job of communicating to the people what is happening in the neighborhood. That includes the Zoning Board of Appeals in notifying abutters.

When people come together in the community and get behind an issue, like on the Nursing Home, we take for granted how powerful we can be. We filled this room up and told the operator and the BPDA that closing was not acceptable. Lo and behold, we have a new nursing home operator.

City Hall is a very difficult building. The City Council, Mayor and BPDA operate in three different worlds. When people in these communities are not happy with a project, I can slow things down and make things not happen.

The above quotes are only bits and pieces from the forum. Hear the complete answer of each of the candidates in the above video and see the entire candidates forum in this prior post.

The preliminary municipal election will be on September 26th, 2017. The top two candidates from that election will appear on the general municipal election ballot on November 7th, 2017. Polls are open 7am-8pm. Find more information at CityofBoston.gov/elections.

For more information on the District 1 City Council Race, follow our District 1 Tag.