Serino Gets 20-Year Zoning Extension for Squire Road Property

Seeking to protect the interests of Stevens Street residents and prevent  businesses or apartments from being built at the corner of Stevens Street and Squire Road, Ward 6 Councillor asked for a 20-year extension to the current 30-year limit on a potential business development project at the site.

“I think in 50 years a lot can happen in the city and I am okay with the 50-year provision,” said Serino. “I was not comfortable with the 30-year provision.

“This does protect Stevens Street for a couple of generations for 50 years,” he added.

Serino said the new provision required a mayoral veto override, “but it is not an override as a chastisement of the mayor or the administration. This is simply a procedural thing that I thank the mayor for vetoing it to buy us time to determine a reasonable resolution.”

Council President Anthony Zambuto also thanked Mayor Arrigo “for cooperating with the City Council on the matter.”

The Council voted unanimously to override the Mayor’s veto.

Some observers, not familiar with the property at 398 Squire Road and the city’s zoning regulations, sought a further clarification on the somewhat complicated matter.

Councilor Serino graciously obliged, offering a more-detailed statement on the issue which follows:

“This property, composed of two parcels, had split zoning.  Part of the property was zoned Residential Business and part of it was zoned General Business.  The owner of 398 Squire Road sought to bring the entire property into uniform zoning – hence the change to all General Business for the parcel.  As the Ward Councillor, I had reservations that if the entire property was zoned General Business, that would mean the residential home that is there now could be turned into something more than a three-family dwelling.  Squire Road is generally understood to be a business district, but currently commercial properties do not extend beyond the intersection of Keayne Street.  I wanted to protect Stevens Street and the more residential end of Squire Road, so I requested a deed restriction to ensure nothing more than a three-family dwelling could be built there.  So, in December, as a City Council we voted to bring that property into uniform zoning by changing the zoning of the parcel that was Residential Business to General Business. 

Attached to that zoning change was a covenant- a deed restriction that would ensure nothing more than a three-family home would be built at 398 Squire Road.  Subsequently, the City Solicitor reviewed the language and determined that in Massachusetts General Law, a deed restriction is only enforceable for thirty years.  Because I am not a lawyer, I was under the impression that the deed restriction would have been enforceable in perpetuity.  When I learned that it would expire after 30 years, it was in the midst of the holidays, so I asked the Mayor to send this matter back to the Council by vetoing the zoning change to see if we could use the time over the holidays to come up with a resolution. 

We were able to find a resolution in Massachusetts General Law that allows a deed restriction to be extended up to 20 years beyond the initial 30-year window, thus making this deed restriction valid and enforceable for 50 years – meaning that for 50 years, nothing more than a three-family dwelling unit can be built on the land of 398 Squire Road – even if the land gets sold multiple times over those 50 years.  Thirty years was an unacceptable term to me, but I feel that 50 years is more appropriate.  It accomplishes the goal of ensuring that that property cannot become anything more than a three-family home for two generations, thus protecting the residents on Stevens Street.  I thank Mayor Arrigo for working with the Council and allowing us the time to get this matter sorted.”

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