Nominations sought for advisory panel on Morrissey projects

A rendering shows two apartment buildings that have been proposed for 75 Morrissey Blvd., one of two large projects that will be reviewed by an Impact Advisory Group that will be assembled this year.

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) is seeking nominations for people to join a Morrissey Boulevard Community Advisory Committee that will review the potential impact of two large development proposals along the roadway corridor. 

The committee will function as a joint Impact Advisory Group reviewing Accordia Partners’ Bayside development proposal, and Morrissey CFL Holding LLC’s proposal for residential towers at 75-77 Morrissey Boulevard. The committee is described by BPDA officials as an “additive planning process” that will accompany usual review meetings that are open to the public. 

“We’re doing outreach to civic associations and individuals we know who are interested in this and we’re really looking for broad nominations here,” said Ted Schwartzberg, a senior planner at the BPDA. 

“As planners a lot of the time we go out and meet people where they’re at in the community,” said Schwartzberg, “but now people are at home and we’ve been hosting sessions online. It’s been one way we’ve been learning and building the capacity to start working remotely on engagement.

“You build these relationships with the people that you work with in the community and a lot of them have been cut off, so everyone here has been excited to engage remotely on the virtual meetings we do have.” 

Once the CAC nominations are received and reviewed, the team will adjust the process around the restrictions of the pandemic, he said.  

“We’ll learn what that process looks like, but even before COVID, we were thinking about how we would approach public review for these developments,” said Schwartzberg. “And everyone is welcome to participate in the public meetings whether or not they’re on this committee.”

Using the 2011 Columbia Point Master Plan as a launching point, the CAC is expected to work with the BPDA to identify how the projects could impact mobility, connectivity, open space and climate resilience, as well as ensuring that both proposals are appropriately scaled to accommodate future infrastructure improvements in the area.

The overall goal is to engage a diverse group in robust conversations about the two projects, said Michael Christopher, deputy director of development review at the BPDA. 

“When we get the nominations, we really just want to make sure that we have a balanced group of residents, stakeholders, professionals that work in and around development, transportation, and different advocacy groups that make up the work that we do,” he said. “It’s meant to be a very robust committee and we want to ensure that there’s equal representation across the neighborhood.” 

Combining the projects for joint review, Christopher noted, will help keep everything in one place and address overlapping issues related to connectivity, infrastructure and open space access in the area. 

“It’s going to take some repetition to get it right,” he added. “We make decisions in discussion with the community so virtually it might be a little more challenging at times but we’ll get there. If anything, big picture of course, it’s slowed things down but that’s just the nature of it.” 

Online nomination forms are due by Fri., July 10. They are available in English, Cape Verdean Creole, Spanish and Vietnamese online (see dotnews.com for a link.) Nomination forms can also be mailed to Ted Schwartzberg at the Boston Planning & Development Agency, One City Hall Square, 9th Floor, Boston, MA 02201.