Green Light: Subcommittee Votes in Favor of Riverfront Overlay District

The Revere City Council’s Zoning Subcommittee voted by a 5-1 margin to approve the RiverFront Overlay District proposal that is part of the RiverFront Master Plan that will transform 20 acres of land in the Riverside/Point of Pines neighborhood into a brand new development.

Chair Patrick Keefe and Councilors Anthony Zambuto, Jessica Giannino Gerry Visconti, and Arthur Guinasso voted in favor of the proposal that included amendments by Keefe. Councilor Richard Serino voted against the proposal.

The Subcommittee was deadlocked at 3-3 at its last meeting on March 8, but Keefe and Visconti voted in the affirmative Monday.

The vote came at the end of a nearly two-hour meeting Monday during which some residents in the Point of Pines neighborhood spoke primarily in opposition of one key element of the plan which is apparently a 290-unit residence to be built on the G and J property. Damian Szary of Redgate, who has developed some of the outstanding, new properties in Revere, was present at the meeting but did not speak about his plans during the meeting.

Keefe’s Amendments

Keefe, who truly had “done his homework” on the matter since the last meeting and directly answered concerns from residents, explained the amendments to the original proposal that were also approved by a 5-1 vote.

Going forward the amendments will create and require more community input on any future private and public proposals for the G and J site. It will establish rigorous parking restrictions for the neighborhood. And it will require more accountability from the City Planning and Mayor Brian Arrigo’s Office in regard to the implementation on all of the recreational and city amenity space that is being proposed with the Master Plan.

“We also added that in any future restaurant or commercial business associated with a private development give preference to Revere residents,” explained Keefe.

The Subcommittee chairperson also stressed repeatedly at the meeting that approval of the Zoning Overlay District proposal “adds to the use of the site and creates an ability for a future proposal, but does not grant any current project (such as the 290-unit residence).”

Powers Responds to New Fire Station Construction

Some residents, notably Eric Lampedecchio of Tapley Avenue, wondered openly at the meeting why construction on the new Point of Pines fire station has not begun.

In one of his most vigorous speeches as a city councillor, John Powers responded to that issue and other concerns among his constituents in the Point of Pines.

“This [fire station] is going to happen,” said Powers. “As a matter of fact, right now, there is a document at the purchasing agent’s office that will call for the asbestos abatement team to come in and the chief has assured me demolition will start sometime in April, if not the end of March,” said Powers.

He also addressed concerns from some residents, including Acting Point of Pines Beach Association President Angela Sawaya, that residents at the new Redgate building would be inclined to use the nearby Point of Pines Beach which is private. Residents did raise the cogent point that enforcing such a prohibition may be difficult with such a nearby inviting space available, especially so during the summer.

“I spoke with Damian [Szary] and he indicated to me that part of their lease agreement is going to have a section that informs the people that it’s a private beach and to use that beach would be violating their lease agreement,” said Powers.

“Who’s going to enforce these rules for beach access?” asked Michael Maynard following Powers’ comments.

Powers said he also requested “resident parking only” restrictions in the Riverside and Point of Pines neighborhoods.

“No one [from the proposed Redgate development] will get a residence [parking] sticker,” said Powers.

Powers said the current G and J Towing property is “a dump, a junk storage yard.”

He said the new development will result in $750,000 for the city’s Community Investment Trust Fund that will be spent in the Ward 5 section of Revere, $750,000 from permitting fees, and $500,000 from other sources resulting from the development. He also said the new development will generate “a million dollars in tax revenue per year versus the $60,000 we’re getting now, so just in increased revenue alone is $940,000 for the city of Revere – and you’re getting rid of an eyesore, and I think with the proper safeguards, this is going to be a great project for the city of Revere.”

Transparency Issue

During the meeting, a few residents expressed their belief that  the Master Plan process has not been transparent despite several meetings and Council discussions about the issue.

Giannino, who is also a state representative, took exception to those comments.

“I normally don’t rebut to negative or nasty comments, but I’m getting a few on the transparency issue,” said Giannino. “I just want to make it very clear that all of the meetings that I’ve been part of – I’ve seen multiple projects happen in the city and I’ve been a part of many boards and organizations that have planned projects like this.

“This was published on Revere TV, this was in the newspaper, this was online,” said Giannino. “Every single meeting was also on the city website. In terms of transparency and feeling blind-sided, I don’t know what else we could have done to let people know what was happening because I believe we’ve covered every source of media, print and digital you could possibly imagine.”

“The Revere Riverfront district is the northern gateway to Revere and the North Shore’s first impression of our community,” said Mayor Arrigo.  “Our plan has always been to make the Revere Riverfront an active and attractive link between the vibrant Riverside and Point of Pines neighborhoods. I commend the City Council for aligning with our vision of the Riverfront and look forward to the outcome of our efforts.”

Proposal Will be Reviewed at March 22 Council Meeting

The Subcommittee’s favorable recommendation for the RiverFront Overlay District proposal will now go before the full City Council at its next meeting for a vote.

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