In a resolute vote, the Zoning Commission on Wednesday morning, Nov. 7, voted to approve a controversial text amendment that would allow building heights at Hood Park to more than double.
The Commission voted 7-1 to approve the amendment, which is very limited in scope and only affects the portion of Hood Park closest to the highway. It also affects a few other properties, including Casella Waste, part of the school bus yard and some properties, under the highway. It does not affect any properties on the other side of Rutherford Avenue.
The amendment would allow buildings in a Planned Development Area to go up by 160 feet above current limits – reaching a maximum height of 275 feet. That would only be allowed in the half of Hood Park closest to the highway.
No habitable floor could be higher than 250 feet.
Areas closest to Rutherford Avenue and Cambridge Street do not change, and remain at a maximum height of 75 feet.
Councilor Lydia Edwards did submit testimony that said she could not support the text amendment, but that didn’t seem to sway the vote.
“Unfortunately, I cannot support the amendment as filed,” she wrote. “A substantial number of stakeholders contacting my office have coalesced around a height of 230 feet. This would represent a doubling of the current zoning limits on height in the area. The proposed amendment goes further and would increase the height limit by 2.4 times. I believe in increasing density and opportunity for commercial development, but I am not confident the present amendment is fully in alignment with the community’s goals.”
Last spring, a group of residents with Edwards attending a Zoning Commission hearing and were able to defeat a text amendment that would allow unlimited heights in the same area. The Zoning Commission sent that request back asking for specifics.
The amendment approved Wednesday was the second form of that plan.