By Barbara Taormina
The city is considering a proposal to eliminate the special zoning for Rowe’s Quarry and replace it with Residence C zoning. Ward 8 Councillor Jadeane Sica proposed the change that would trigger a three-story height restriction and a specific special permitting process for different land uses. Developer Roseland Property Co. is currently seeking site plan approval to build three six-story buildings with 326 units on the parcel of land behind Vining Street.
The idea to eliminate the Rowe’s Quarry Reclamation & Redevelopment District was proposed last December during a joint public hearing of the Planning Board and the City Council’s Ordinance Committee. The Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA) opposed the idea and argued that Rowe’s Quarry has its own master plan and is overseen by the Rowe’s Quarry Site Plan Review Committee. According to the MRA, the development has adequate regulations and oversight to protect the city’s interests and needs. But others argued that the Rowe’s Quarry master plan is no longer valid because it includes a ramp from the development onto Route 1.
The Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) has said that plans to realign Route 1 have been shelved and will not be reconsidered for several decades. “The state has been clear about that,” said Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora. “The change negates the master plan.”
Sica and Spadafora have loudly and repeatedly expressed concerns about the traffic and safety problems Roseland’s new building project could cause in the surrounding neighborhood now that the Route 1 connection is off the table. But the Planning Board voted eight to one against eliminating the Rowe’s Quarry zoning district. The problem, according to City Planner Michelle Romero, is that the original proposal did not include any new zoning for the district. It was unclear what might happen if Rowe’s Quarry were left with no zoning at all.
Sica’s proposal would tie up that loose end and will now head back to another joint public hearing of the Planning Board and the Ordinance Committee. Meanwhile, Romero, who serves on the Rowe’s Quarry Site Plan Review Committee, has repeatedly pressed Roseland to amend the master plan for the Rowe’s Quarry District to reflect the changes with the now-defunct Route 1 connection. Roseland has resisted that request and instead pushed hard for immediate approval for the new construction.