Last night (6/7), I was at City Hall to listen to the developer of the Orr Block Project present his vision to the Land Use Committee. The presentation, via the developer’s legal and design team, lasted about an hour. After this, City Councilors asked questions, then the Planning Department’s Chief Planner spoke, and then the Planning and Development Board asked questions. All in all, this took almost two hours.
Finally, at the end of the night, residents were allowed to speak. One group, Neighbors for a Better Newtonville (NBN), came hoping for the same considerations as the petitioner: time for an organized presentation. NBN coordinators had been told the group could present. After two hours of developer presentations, Councilor comments, Planning perspective, and Planning and Development comments, however, it was clear the Chair of Land Use (Councilor Laredo) was tired and reluctant to give time for a sustained and organized citizen presentation.
My question is this: Is it right that a person or group that stands to make deep profits from Board votes gets to present in an organized manner yet residents cannot? Shouldn’t residents be afforded the same consideration? Is there a better way for residents to publicly present concerns to the Board of City Councilors?