I would like to take this opportunity to share my opinion regarding the Southbridge II redevelopment project and the pending City Council action on this issue in hope of clarifying any misunderstandings and provide residents with what I believe is the best resolution.
The petition drive that gathered well over the required number of signatures to stop the project delivered a clear message about the community’s attitude toward Southbridge II. However, the project has been halted for enough time that the developer is not able to move forward with the project.
His plans for the project are over. He has requested that the council repeal its decision to change zoning on his properties. This means he will give up all new property rights and entitlements he received in December to build higher and denser than the previous zoning.
So those who opposed the project have already won, if we repeal the council’s December Southbridge decision on Tuesday. I plan to vote for this repeal. I am convinced by a large group of petitioners that the project is best laid to rest.
In addition to the repeal of the specific Southbridge II land entitlements, I stand steadfast that the adjacent vacant land, known as the Rose Garden, which was sold by the city to the developer as a separate council agenda item in December, also be repealed at the City Council meeting on Tuesday.
This action would allow the city to take back the parcel and stop the $8 million sale. The developer has told me that he is willing to give up his current property rights on the Rose Garden site and the zoning changes on his other holdings in the Southbridge II project in order to move on.
While I appreciate the time and effort that has gone into the signature gathering effort and other actions by residents regarding Southbridge, I also understand the developer and his family want to end the rancor.
It is time to move forward and face the current environment head on in a rational and thoughtful manner.
The city is facing new and unprecedented challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. We are in the midst of the most devastating health and economic crisis of modern time.
It is imperative that while we confront our most immediate needs, it is equally important that our city be well prepared for life and prosperity after the crisis.
During my time on the City Council, I have most often been the voice of reason and a consensus-builder; this is an opportunity for our city to come together once again, for the greater good, and put to rest the civil discord and contention so that we may focus our attention on more pressing issues.