By Seth Daniel
Accommodating a December request from State Rep. Dan Ryan, the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) acted this week to schedule a special learning session for the Town regarding the standard City review process.
The process, known as the Article 80 Large Project development review, has been used citywide for more than a decade in other neighborhoods of the City, but wasn’t fully implemented in Charlestown until recently.
The process utilizes general meetings and meetings of a special community Impact Advisory Group (IAG) to review those developments before the BPDA and to discuss mitigation measures. The IAG process is especially new in Charlestown as developers tended to visit various community groups individually in Charlestown rather than deal with a publicly-appointed IAG as is done in the rest of the City. For years, the IAG process had been waived in the Town.
Now it’s back, but no one has bothered yet to explain what it is.
“BPDA staff will be providing an overview of the Article 80 development review process,” read an announcement from the BPDA this week. “After a presentation by BPDA staff, a question and answer session will follow. The public is encouraged to attend.”
The session will not focus on any specific development, but simply on the process itself and how IAGs work, as well as the various steps in the review process. Ryan said too many people in Charlestown don’t understand the process, as it is new to them, and the BPDA often explains it within the context of a meeting dedicated to a specific development.
“I want to thank the new BRA, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, for their responsiveness,” said Ryan this week. “The rebranding of the BRA was not just in name and image. I do feel they are putting more of emphasis on planning and neighborhood communication. Sometimes this gets lost in the current building boom. This meeting is a good time out from talking about structures. It is an opportunity for those in the neighborhood who want to gain a better understanding of how these buildings all around us go from concept to completion. How and when are the best times to weigh in as a concerned resident? And to find where those concerns get incorporated. I see this as the next building block from Mayor Walsh’s Open House in November. With a better understanding of the methods in which development gets approved we, as a neighborhood, will be in a stronger position to advocate and shape development rather than react to it. I thank Mayor Walsh and Director Brian Golden for taking the initiative in presenting this opportunity.”
The meeting will take place on Weds., March 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the Harvard Kent School Cafeteria, 55 Bunker Hill Street.