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Planning Board does not support change to laboratory biosafety levels

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Chairman: Agreement means less residential, more industrial

  Compared to the uproar at Monday night’s City Council public hearing on a proposed ordinance to reduce biosafety levels for life sciences and medical buildings in the city, Wednesday night’s Planning Board hearing on the same issue seemed to escape notice. On Monday night, City Council President Gerry Visconti cleared the City Council Chambers after some members of the audience became unruly on the hearing on the ordinance he proposed along with Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna.

  With HYM proposing a large life sciences complex at the Suffolk Downs development, Visconti and McKenna are looking to drop the maximum biosafety level allowed for labs in the city from the current level three to a more restrictive level two. The Planning Board on Wednesday voted not to recommend a change in the current ordinance. No one spoke in favor or in opposition to the proposed amendment at the Planning Board’s public hearing.

  The proposed ordinance must still go before the City Council’s Zoning Subcommittee before the full council takes the deciding vote on the subject.

  “My comment on this is that [Suffolk Downs developer] HYM bought that property with the understanding of what the zoning ordinance was in the city of Revere at that time,” said Planning Board Chair Louis Ciarlone. “They entered into a series of agreements, including affordable housing over and above what Boston requires and other agreements with the City of Revere, and we’ve approved the overlay district for biomedical facilities.”

  Ciarlone said the agreements are to the benefit of the city, since it will reduce the amount of residential development in favor of increased industrial and service-related development.

  “I think it would be abundantly unfair to HYM or to any developer that once they enter into an agreement and start prepping a location, that the city of Revere changes any of the zoning ordinances,” said Ciarlone. “I’m not looking to advance the cause, but I certainly don’t want to detract from it; that’s my personal opinion.”

  The other three Planning Board members present on Wednesday – Juan Pablo Jaramillo, Anthony DelVecchio and Megan Simmons-Herrling – all voted against recommending approval of the proposed ordinance change.

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