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City begins to investigate transparency in Redgate and WestBrook Special Permit submissions

Dear Councilors:

After our raising a big 'stink' over a highly public tree campaign and transparent city process-driven outreach effort for 55 Wheeler, we have now received TODAY, 'VOILA', a brand new Tree Study from Redgate dated "September 2018" which could not have been an accurate DATE (attached), if we are to believe DPW's statement of not having received one as of Dec 2018. Overnight this tree layout appears after the Companies were informed by the city that Cambridge doesn't possess the "Courtyard" trees (One city hand does not know what other hand is doing?)

I was later informed by DPW that, in fact, there was a "Tree Study" approval by Arborist in 5/22/17.

This brand new Company Study I received today has come only after the public received our personal drone photos that the 55 Wheeler St. COURTYARD trees are now up on the chopping block because of a forthcoming building permit promised by the city via a "Special Permit" in Dec. 2017. Several citizens from the area and myself have been requesting, in various outpourings, that the Bldg. permit should be withheld because our city administrators of the Planning Board and Arborist had not approved via Ordinance requirements, "The Tree Study" as we were told.

We NOW request once again, that a legal process be instituted based on compliance with our own Tree Ordiance begun many years ago with much grassroots support by many many citizens and neighbors, and especially designed and written by neighbor and philanthropist, Karen Carmean and husband Doane. The Tree Ordinance now has an additional amendment proposed to be discussed very soon by Councilor Quinton Zondervan.

The legal requirement (Ordinance) says the following: 8.66.050 - Procedure for Large Projects

a.In any project which requires a special permit under §§ 4.26.l - 4.26.3, §19.20, §11.12.1, §11.12.2, or §11.12.3 of the Zoning Ordinance, the application for the special permit shall include a Tree Study, which shall first have been submitted to the City Arborist not less than twenty-one (21) days prior to the submission of the application for a special permit. The Tree Study shall be reviewed by the City Arborist, who shall certify that he has reviewed it, indicating whether it is complete and complies with the applicable provisions of this Chapter and regulations promulgated thereunder. The City Arborist shall refer the Tree Study with his certification and recommendations to the Planning Board, to assist the Planning Board in establishing any conditions that may be required as a result of the findings of the Tree Study in connection with the issuance of a special permit.

b.Regarding any project which includes a building of 25,000 square feet or more and which is subject to the provisions of § 19.50 of the Zoning Ordinance, the materials submitted to the Inspectional Services Department with the application for a building permit shall include a Tree Study, together with a certification from the City Arborist that the applicant has submitted the Tree Study for review to the City Arborist not less than twenty-one (21) days prior to the submission of the application for a building permit, and that the Tree Study is complete and complies with the applicable provisions of this Chapter and regulations promulgated thereunder. The owner of the lot shall be required to commit to comply with all provisions of the Tree Study and the applicable provisions of this Chapter and regulations promulgated hereunder in the application for a building permit.

If the courtyard plants were misrepresented (omitted) by new owners, so might other Wheeler St. matters of serious consequence since high levels of toxic materials were found by certified firms before Abt Associates arrived. A full investigation should be requested by the city agencies, and a building permit held up indefinitely until the 2 Firms make an effort to re-plan the underground parking which would annihilate the trees (all of them, not just Birch).

We finally learn that there is an existing floating foundation for an underground garage which would be prohibitive to dig up. Another means of constructing the garage is requested.

Apparently the Planning Board has not sufficiently consulted the DPW Planting Comm., Forestry Dept. and Arborist over these documents. Possibly, this is as far as we can go. I felt the need to share this new "Tree Study" with you that is dated "September 18" with you. I spoke to the PB Coordinator person to person in late November, who did not have a Tree Study at that time.

Please continue to inquire whether proper legal steps will be taken against the Firms because the Ordinance has been clearly breeched and a Special Permit in Dec. 2017 was erroneously given to Redgate and WestBrook Partners.

The City has taken steps to begin to investigate the Firms' courtyard omissions. All eyes are needed on the process.


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