East Cambridge NCD Study

East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District Study Area


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Click HERE to review the Preliminary Report of the East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District Study Committee (Updated: October 19, 2022). 

Background:

At a public hearing on October 3, 2019 the Cambridge Historical Commission (CHC) voted to initiate a neighborhood conservation district (NCD) study for the portion of East Cambridge shown on the attached map. This action was taken in response to a petition filed several months ago by a number of long-term property owners and residents who have expressed concerns about the effects of development on the character of the neighborhood.

The first step is the appointment of an NCD study committee by the city manager. An NCD study committee consists of seven members appointed by the city manager, including three residents and/or property owners of the study area, three members or alternates of the Historical Commission, and one additional person with knowledge and concern for conservation of the character-defining features of the city’s built environment; we hope to ensure that all points of view are represented. All meetings will be open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend and participate. A schedule of meeting dates and location(s) will be mailed to property owners and posted online here after the committee has been appointed.

The study will assess the character and history of the neighborhood, the development potential of each property under current regulatory conditions, aspects of the neighborhood that are valued by its residents, and the jurisdiction and boundaries of a potential district. The study will conclude with the drafting of a report and recommendations to the Historical Commission; enactment of the district will be up to the City Council.

History of East Cambridge- Excerpts of "Survey of Architectural History in Cambridge, East Cambridge" (1988)


Updates:  

December 1, 2022

The Cambridge Historical Commission will be meeting to discuss the ECNCD Report and recommendations for the establishment of a Neighborhood Conservation District in East Cambridge. The meeting notice has been mailed out to all owners in the study area and can be viewed here

This meeting will be held online with remote participation. The public may participate via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, register here or call (301)715-8592. Webinar ID#: 852 1548 3253. Confirm meeting details or view meeting materials online here. Written comment is welcome up to 24 hours before the meeting and may be sent to histcomm@cambridgema.gov. 

 

October 19, 2022

The nineteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 14 members of the public in attendance.

The committee reviewed minor edits and additions to the report submitted by staff and largely engaged in a discussion about next steps of the process. Staff explained that if the report is approved by the ECNCD Study Committee, the report would be sent to the Law Department for review. After this, the report can either go back before the study committee for edits or forwarded to the Planning Board for comments and also the Cambridge Historical Commission, who would take a vote on recommending the study report to the City Council for final approval.

A motion to support the proposal with a positive recommendation with the request that added footnotes on the respondents of the post card poll; Ron Creamer's second letter dated October 19, 2022; and Francesca Gordini's letter titled "A Renter's Perspective", be added to the report. The committee voted 5-1 in support of the motion. 

A recording of the October 19, 2022, public meeting can be accessed herePasscode: M^2ldi$b

 

 

October 12, 2022

 

The East Cambridge NCD Study Committee will meet on October 19, 2022 from 6-8pm to continue discussions regarding the proposed East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District. The study committee will review the edits to the Preliminary Report (found here) and ultimately make a recommendation to the Cambridge Historical Commission. 

The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECoct2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 848 1431 0903

The meeting will be live broadcast or replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

 

Written comment is welcome up to 24 hours before the meeting and may be sent to Eric Hill at

ehill@cambridgema.gov If you have questions, please email Eric or call (617) 349-4683.

 

September 21, 2022

The eighteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 16 members of the public in attendance. 

Cambridge Historical Commission staff gave an update on the outreach in the neighborhood in June and July. The results of the postcard poll were shared again, and CHC staff noted that roughly thirty responses were received since the last hearing, but the results were not significantly impacted. The study committee voted to approve an addendum submitted by staff which included a case study on the properties at the corner of Thorndike and Sixth streets explaining what the review process and jurisdiction would be if a district was established based on the current recommendations. 

At the end of the hearing three motions were called. The first, to advance the report with the boundaries shrunk to National Register properties, was submitted by Gavin Kleespies. There was no second. A motion was called by Ron Creamer to not recommend the report, terminating future proceedings due to a lack of consensus. There was no second. A third motion was called by Bill Dines to forward the report with amendments submitted by CHC staff and discussion from the 9-21-22 meeting. The vote was 4-1-1, it was approved (BD, PP, FG, KS in support; RC opposed; GK abstained). 

A recording of the July 20, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: #1R09*1R

 

September 8, 2022

The East Cambridge NCD Study Committee will meet on September 21, 2022 from 6-8pm to continue discussions regarding the proposed East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District. The study committee will further deliberate the proposed boundaries, jurisdiction, and future of the study process. 

The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECsep2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 873 2026 2397

The meeting will be live broadcast or replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

Written comment is welcome up to 24 hours before the meeting and may be sent to Eric Hill at

ehill@cambridgema.gov If you have questions, please email Eric or call (617)349-4683.

 

 

July 28, 2022

The regularly scheduled public meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee planned for August 17, 2022 has been cancelled as we will not have a quorum of members in attendance. The next meeting will be held on September 21, 2022. 

July 20, 2022

The seventeenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 13 members of the public in attendance. 

Cambridge Historical Commission staff gave an update on the outreach in the neighborhood in June and July, which included four walking tours, three "office hours", and presentations to the East Cambridge Business Association and East Cambridge Planning Team. Staff also shared the results of the postcard poll which was distributed to the public in early June. The two polls (one to all property owners in the study area and one to all active voters in the study area) were tallied separately. After the poll results were discussed, the committee and members of the public needed time to think about next steps and future recommendations for the report and NCD. 

To see the slides and poll results shared at the July 20, 2022 hearing, click here

A recording of the July 20, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: ^8wCcr+&

 

At the July 20, 2022 meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will hear from Cambridge Historical Commission staff on the results of the postcard polls sent to the neighborhood to gauge support for the current NCD proposal. The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECjuly2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 875 5863 3062. The meeting will be replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

 

June 15, 2022

The East Cambridge Study Committee will not be meeting for the previously scheduled June meeting. The Committee will reconvene in July to go over the outreach and results of the postcard poll. 

 

June 7, 2022

Cambridge Historical Commission staff gave a presentation to the East Cambridge Business Association to explain the current proposal of the East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District.

The presentation shown can be accessed here

 

May 25, 2022

Cambridge Historical Commission staff gave a presentation to the East Cambridge Planning Team (ECPT) to explain the current proposal of the East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District.

The presentation shown can be accessed here. After the presentation, members asked if there was a case log of all the projects reviewed during the study period along with information as to when they were approved. A case log of cases can be found here

 

May 18, 2022

Cambridge Historical Commission staff gave an update on the neighborhood outreach and efforts to share the findings of the Preliminary Report to residents and stakeholders of East Cambridge. 

The ECNCD Outreach Schedule can be found here. Contact Eric Hill at Ehill@cambridgema.gov with any questions. 

A recording of the May 18, 2022 informational meeting of the ECNCD Study can be accessed here. Passcode: e6HTfY.*

 

 

May 1, 2022

The Cambridge Historical Commission staff will be hosting additional public meetings, walking tours, and presentations to neighborhood groups as part of the outreach period of the East Cambridge NCD Study process. To see the proposed schedule of future events and meetings, click here. Note: dates and topics may change. Staff will send out updates and notices periodically. To make sure you are included in the email notifications, email Eric Hill at ehill@cambridgema.gov 

 

April 20, 2022 (Rescheduled from April 13, 2022)

The sixteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 16 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting.

The committee and members of the public discussed minor additions within the Draft Preliminary Report. After this, a motion to approve the Draft Preliminary Report was made by Mr. Sheffield and seconded by Mr. Dines. A roll call vote was undertaken by staff with the motion being approved 4-0 (with one abstention). After this, the committee discussed the next phase of the study which entails the public outreach and education to explain the committee's recommendations in the report. Staff and the committee members discussed options for outreach and concluded that CHC Staff will present the Preliminary Report to the East Cambridge Planning Team and East Cambridge Business Association at upcoming meeting dates in May or June. Additionally, CHC Staff will give informational walking tours on the history of East Cambridge and its diverse architecture. A schedule of public events and hearings will be shared on this webpage when determined. 

To read the full Preliminary Report, click here

A recording of the April 20, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: CCn0va=.

At the April 20, 2022 meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will conclude edits to the preliminary draft and approve the letter and poll questions which will be distributed to the neighborhood. The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECapr2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 824 6858 7640.  The meeting will be replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

The meeting will be live broadcast or replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

Documents to be discussed:

 

March 16, 2022

The fifteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 16 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further additions within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report, including updates to the summary and a tabulated chart that visually explains the proposed jurisdiction for National Register and Non-National Register properties. The committee reviewed the edits and after some revisions and approved the report in principle, allowing the advancement of the study to move into public outreach and the postcard poll. 

A recording of the March 16, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: E#3hh!GJ

At the March 16, 2022 meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will review further edits to the draft report and the letter and poll questions which will go out to the neighborhood if/when the committee votes to approve the report and following a public outreach process. The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECmar2022 or call (301)715- 8592 Webinar ID: 825 0597 0923 The meeting will be replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

Documents to be discussed:

 

February 16, 2022

The fourteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 19 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further additions within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report, including updates to the summary as suggested by committee member Ron Creamer, a section on the historic stone walls in the neighborhood, a recounting of the March 2020 public meeting, and further edits to express the main concerns brought up by those who oppose the NCD. Staff showed a list of reasons why proponents of the ECNCD wanted the additional protections, and included verbiage from Envision Cambridge, listing the relevant goals stated in that report. 

A recording of the February 16, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: KJB89$uh

At the February 16, 2022 meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will review further edits to the draft report and the letter and poll questions which will go out to the neighborhood if/when the committee votes to approve the report and following a public outreach process. The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECfeb2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 843 4319 8126

Documents to be discussed:

 

January 19, 2022

The thirteenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 21 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further additions within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report, including a recounting of the March 2020 public meeting. The committee and public reviewed CHC staff's draft addition to the report regarding the major concerns heard by members of the public regarding an NCD in East Cambridge. A committee member had concerns with what he thought were rebuttals to the concerns raised by the public, and asked for them to simply be listed as concerns. Others on the committee felt that the existing version stating answering some major concerns were appropriate.

A recording of the January 19, 2022 public meeting can be accessed here. Passcode: 7!9Ne.b1

At the January 19, 2022 meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will review the draft report and the letter and poll questions which will go out to the neighborhood if/when the committee votes to approve the report and following a public outreach process. The meeting will be held online. The public can participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECjan2022 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 893 4257 6746

Documents to be discussed:

December 15, 2021

The twelfth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 19 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further edits within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report. Staff explained what sections of the Preliminary Report had updates and changes, and the Committee further reviewed and edited them at the hearing. The committee asked staff to include a mention on the contentious meeting in March 2020 and a breakdown of concerns that have been raised by members of the public regarding a possible NCD in East Cambridge. The meeting concluded with an examination on the pros and cons of polling methods to gauge the neighborhood's support of the NCD proposal, once the Preliminary Report is approved. The Committee suggested adding a name and address line to the poll to curb the possibility of duplicative or false survey responses. Committee member Ron Creamer suggested further edits to the letter to accompany the poll and stated he would submit some language by the next meeting.

At the December 15th meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will review the completed draft report (view here) and the draft letters and poll questions which will go out to the neighborhood if/when the committee votes to approve the final report and following a public outreach process. The draft letter to the public and poll can be found (here). We solicit any edits or suggestions on either document prior to the meeting on the 15th at 6:00pm. Please send edits or comments to HistComm@cambridgema.gov.

The December 15, 2021 ECNCD Public Meeting will be held virtually on Zoom. The public an participate in the online meeting via the Zoom webinar platform (https://zoom.us/) from a phone, tablet, or computer. To join the meeting, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECdec2021 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 829 9747 7066

The meeting will be live broadcast or replayed on Cambridge cable tv, CityView22.

Materials to be discussed at Committee meeting:

Written comment is welcome up to 24 hours before the meeting and may be sent to CHC Staff at histcomm@cambridgema.gov If you have questions, please email or call (617)349-4683.

 

A recording of the December 15, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: FYN#Dnu0 

 

November 17, 2021

The eleventh meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 22 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further edits within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report. The Committee reviewed and edited a new secondary goal generated by staff which would allow a future commission to approve projects based on the ever-evolving City Council goals. The committee and public discussed a possible reduction of the study area, with the two houses at the corner of Third and Bent streets mentioned. They felt that the buildings there serve as a gateway into the neighborhood and provide a transition point for the residential area of the neighborhood into the more industrial and tech boundary at the southern edge of East Cambridge. They noted that just because a building is included in the study area, it does not necessarily preclude demolition and new construction. 

The meeting ended with a discussion on next steps and the proposed methodology of the poll for the neighborhood at the conclusion of the study. CHC staff suggested three separate polls, which could be tabulated separately. All polls would have a summary of the process and report, would include a link to the full report and CHC webpage, and staff contacts for questions. Each of the methods have pros and cons, and staff explained that it would be best to have three separate polls than just one that is not inclusive. 

•Pre-paid postcard sent 1st class mail to all property owners.
•Pre-paid postcard sent 1st class mail to all registered voters.
•Summary and link to on-line survey sent to all households by Every Door Direct.

A recording of the October 20, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: w&ShA^C8 

 

The November 17, 2021 public meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study will be held virtually on Zoom. To register, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECnov2021 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 846 9569 9454

The Study Committee will review and discuss edits to Chapter 5 of the Preliminary Report. That chapter can be found here

 

October 20, 2021

The tenth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 18 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. The committee and attending members of the public discussed further edits within the draft chapters of the Preliminary Report. The Committee reviewed and edited a new secondary goal generated by staff since the September meeting. In discussions on the Recommendations Chapter, the committee and members of the public appear to have a consensus that supported work to allow a rezoning along Cambridge Street to allow more unconventional signage, presently not permitted by the City Sign code. Costs associated with presenting before commissions were discussed as well as binding vs. non-binding review for properties based on listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Both of those topics will be further explored at the November meeting.

A recording of the October 20, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: kF2@U*z7

At the October 20, 2021 meeting of the ECNCD Study, the committee will review updates to the draft preliminary report chapters listed below. 

The October 20, 2021 public meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study will be held virtually on Zoom. To register, use this registration link before or during the meeting: https://tinyurl.com/ECoct2021 or call (301)715-8592 Webinar ID: 822 3600 8323

 

September 22, 2021

At the September 22, 2021 public meeting of the East Cambridge NCD Study, the committee and public will review the proposed edits to the Goal Statements (see here) and Chapter 2 of the Draft Report (additions and edits in red here).

The ninth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 24 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch the meeting. As the committee was without a quorum for the first half of the meeting, staff gave a presentation of the history of Cambridge Street and explained how the ECNCD Study process can be used as a tool for later planning studies of the area. When a quorum was reached, staff gave a brief presentation on the process to this point and the committee and members of the public reviewed suggested edits to the goal statement and secondary goals as discussed at the last hearing. Some members of the public spoke out against the idea of an NCD while others were still in support.

A recording of the September 22, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: 5cG%8xH%

 

August 19, 2021

The eighth meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 14 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch and participate in the meeting. Staff gave a brief presentation on the process to this point and an agenda for the hearing. The committee and members of the public reviewed suggested edits to the goal statement and secondary goals for the neighborhood by a member of the study committee. Some members of the public spoke out against the idea of an NCD while others were still in support. The committee began discussing the proposed guidelines for the district with staff giving "homework" for the committee and public to review the guidelines and make edits and suggestions to be better tailored to the East Cambridge neighborhood. The meeting concluded with staff explaining that the 12-month study period would be terminating on September 10th, and CHC jurisdiction on permits would lapse at that time. However, the study committee could continue to meet and finish the report and recommendations to the Cambridge Historical Commission and City Council. 

A recording of the August 18, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: f$E$q2C6

 

July 21, 2021

The seventh meeting of the ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with 17 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was recorded and will be broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have internet connection the ability to watch and participate in the meeting. Staff gave a brief presentation on the process to this point and an agenda for the hearing. The committee and members of the public reviewed the goal statement and secondary goals for the neighborhood and reviewed the jurisdiction which could be put in place if the district were to be established. The general consensus of the study committee would be that National Register properties be treated differently than non-National Register properties as laid out in Chapter 3 of the Draft Report. Some members of the public spoke out against the idea of an NCD while others were still in support. Staff brought up the idea for Cambridge Street to be reviewed differently, either by National Register status or by geographic location, but the committee felt that uniform guidelines and jurisdiction for the street would make the most sense, even though most architecturally significant buildings are on the eastern half of Cambridge Street in the study area. Ron Creamer, a member of the study committee asked that his letter addressed to CHC staff and the committee be included on the website, the letter dated 07-20-2021 can be accessed here

The August meeting of the committee will continue to review the draft report before finalizing it and making a recommendation. 

A recording of the July 21, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: l^1*&V.M 

July 15, 2021

July 7, 2021- Canceled

 

June 16, 2021

May 26, 2021

 

April 21, 2021-

The fourth meeting met virtually via zoom, with 15 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have a webcam or sufficient internet connection to watch and participate in the meeting. Staff gave a brief presentation on the process to this point and an agenda for the hearing. Staff explained the significance of generating a goal statement for a district and read the four draft goal statements developed by staff, members of the study committee, and public. The study committee and public discussed and commented on the various goal statements and were generally leaning towards Alternate Goal Statement #3, submitted by a member on the study committee, pending edits. The ECNCD Study will continue discussions on goal statements and jurisdiction at the May hearing. 

Draft goal statements can be found here. An example matrix of jurisdiction and review procedures can be found here

A recording of the April 21, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: 8HtRZr%B

 

March 17, 2021-

The third meeting met virtually via zoom, with over 30 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have a webcam or sufficient internet connection to watch and participate in the meeting. Staff gave a brief presentation on NCD jurisdiction implementation, citing how different conservation districts in Cambridge have varied levels of review. Following, the Cambridge Community Development Department presented a neighborhood demographic study of East Cambridge and rental data compiled from properties both in and outside existing NCDs. To view the CDD presentation, click here. Following the CDD presentation, a question/answer period was held for the public and committee members. After, CHC staff gave a presentation highlighting assessed value changes inside NCDs before they were established and compared to today's assessments. To view assessed values in existing NCDs over time click here.

A recording of the March 17, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: tC+u#1v8

 

February 18, 2021-

The second meeting met virtually via zoom, with over 40 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have a webcam or sufficient internet connection to watch and participate in the meeting. As the topic of discussion was the study boundaries, staff opened the meeting with a presentation on the existing boundaries and explained the options available to the committee to look at in terms of maintaining or altering the study area. The committee discussed the option of keeping the boundary as is, to shrink it to only National Register Districts, or to modify the boundary another way. Additionally, the idea of binding vs. non-binding review was discussed for parts of the neighborhood. After questions and comments by the public, the study committee voted 4-1 to retain the existing boundary(For: Dines, Gordini, Kleespies, Paris; Against: Creamer). The topic of the jurisdiction being binding or non-binding, was continued to a subsequent hearing voted 5-0. Members Reece and Sheffield were not in attendance. 

A recording of the February 17, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: 7Uk+VZ&F

 

January 20, 2021-

The first meeting of the renewed ECNCD Study Committee met virtually via Zoom, with over 40 members of the public in attendance. The meeting was broadcast on Cityview-22 to allow those who do not have a webcam or sufficient internet connection to watch and participate in the meeting. Staff gave an update on the process thus far, the tools available to the neighborhood, and a brief history of East Cambridge. The seven appointed committee members introduced themselves and began discussions on their thoughts regarding a study in the neighborhood. The meeting concluded with a brief discussion about the next hearing which would analyze and justify boundaries, which may shrink as the study continues. All members of the public who wished to speak were given ample time to do so.

A recording of the January 20, 2021 ECNCD Study Committee Public Meeting can be accessed here. Password: G92LsnE?

 

January 6, 2021-

The CHC sent out mass mailings to owners and to every unit in the study boundary via EveryDoorDirectMail through the USPS. 

The ECNCD Study Committee will resume meetings on January 20, 2021, and meet on the third Wednesday of every month (unless otherwise noted) via Zoom following the schedule below.

January 20

Introductions and updates

Purpose and objectives; options for continuing the study

 

February 17*

Boundaries and sub-districts

East Cambridge neighborhood goals and objectives

 

March 17

Residential area goals and guidelines for alterations, demolition, and new construction

 

April 21*        

Residential area goals and guidelines (continued)

 

May 26 (Fourth Wednesday)

Commercial area goals and guidelines

 

June 16*

Commercial area goals and guidelines (continued)

 

July 21*

Review draft preliminary report of the study committee

 

August 18

Finalize draft preliminary report

 

*Decision points at which public testimony will be taken

 


September 10, 2020-

The Historical Commission voted at a public hearing to renew the EC district study for one year, due to the study having been halted during COVID-19 shutdown. Meetings will resume in early 2021. See meeting materials for the 9/10/20 meeting here.

March 7, 2020- 

Approximately 20 residents of East Cambridge attended the scheduled East Cambridge Residential walking tour. CHC staff led the tour detailing historic buildings and sub-areas of the neighborhood and answered questions on the design review processes compared to what is allowable by Zoning. 

March 2, 2020- 

Approximately 50 residents of East Cambridge and nearby neighborhoods attended the third public meeting where CHC staff gave a brief presentation on the process thus far and a sampling of past reviewed cases since the ECNCD Study commenced on October 3, 2019. Staff then explained the process for the neighborhood to establish a goal statement, followed by a list of more specific goals to frame future discussions and objectives for a potential conservation district. Brief discussion occurred before the meeting was adjourned early due to disruptive behavior. See the CHC presentation here.

 

February 3, 2020-

Approximately 30 residents and stakeholders attended the second public meeting where CHC staff explained existing preservation tools available to the neighborhood. National Register designation, demolition delay processes, individual landmarks, and conservation district designation were all discussed as preservation tools presently available. CHC staff spoke about three existing conservation districts, including: Half Crown-Marsh, Mid-Cambridge, and Harvard Square, and what makes each of those ordinances unique. See the presentation here.

 

January 3, 2020-

The first East Cambridge Neighborhood Conservation District Study Public Meeting was held. Over 40 residents and stakeholders were in attendance. Staff explained process for creation of a Conservation District and next steps to the neighborhood. Staff gave a presentation highlighting the history and development of East Cambridge.

 


December 2019-

City Manager's Office appointed four neighborhood members to the East Cambridge NCD Study Committee which include: Ronald Creamer Jr., William Dines, Francesca Gordini, and Valerie Reece from the neighborhood and Gavin Kleespies, Paula Paris, and Kyle Sheffield from the Historical Commission. 

The Cambridge Historical Commission sent a letter to all properties within the study area listing the appointed members, dates and location of the public meetings, and information regarding the goals for the meetings.

The public meetings will be held at the East End House, 105 Spring Street Cambridge, MA 02141 on the first and third Monday of the months January through June. See attached schedule for dates and topics.

 

A full list of meeting dates are below:


January 6, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
February 3, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
March 2, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
March 16, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
April 6, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
May 4, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
May 18, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
June 1, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
June 15, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
June 29, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)
July 20, 2020 (6:30-8:00 pm)

 

November 2019- Cambridge Historical Commission and the City Manager's Office are holding interviews in early December for positions on the East Cambridge NCD Study Committee.

Make an Application:

 

To make an application for alterations to your property during the study period, please download an application form and return it to us by mail or email at (histcomm at cambridgema dot gov).

The Cambridge Historical Commission has set interim guidelines for properties within the proposed East Cambridge NCD boundary as follows:

For residential properties, the design guidelines and jurisdiction of commission review follow the Half Crown-Marsh NCD standards. The Half Crown-Marsh NCD is made of two areas, formerly each designated as a separate NCD, located west of Harvard Square between Brattle Street and the river, with Hilliard Street on the east and Lowell Street on the west. The consolidated district is bisected by Longfellow Park, which is located in the adjacent Old Cambridge Historic District. 


For commercial properties and businesses along the Cambridge Street corridor, the design guidelines and jurisdiction of commission review follow the Harvard Square Conservation District standards.The Harvard Square Conservation District is an area of mixed-use buildings in the historic center of Cambridge, and it is approximately bounded by Massachusetts Avenue and Mount Auburn, Eliot, Bennett, Story, and Church streets. It is administered by the Cambridge Historical Commission.

These procedures do not apply to interior renovations, exterior maintenance or repairs, paint colors, or changes to plant material, all of which are exempt from review. Building permit applications for exempt projects will be approved administratively by Commission staff. 

For projects requiring Cambridge Historical Commission review and a public hearing, applications will be scheduled for the next available CHC public meeting date (see calendar of upcoming application deadlines and hearings here).

 

Frequently Downloaded Files:

  1. Application form
  2. Map of Study Area
  3. Enabling Ordinance


Contacts:

Charles Sullivan, Executive Director or Eric Hill, Survey Director 
E-mail us
Phone: 617-349-4683

TTY (for hearing impaired): 617-349-6112

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Districts (See below).

WHAT ARE HISTORIC DISTRICTS AND NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICTS?

Historic Districts:
Historic districts are areas in which historic buildings and their settings are protected by public review of alterations. Historic district ordinances are local laws that are adopted by communities using powers granted by the state. Historic districts comprise the city's significant historic and architectural resources. Inclusion in a historic district signifies that a property contributes to an ensemble that is worth protecting by virtue of its historic importance or architectural characteristics. Historic districts deserve special protection because they enhance our shared quality of life.

Neighborhood Conservation Districts:
These districts are groups of buildings that are architecturally and historically distinctive. There are four NCDs in Cambridge: Mid Cambridge, Half Crown-Marsh, Avon Hill, and Harvard Square. A different commission administers each of the four NCDs. These NCD commissions are empowered to approve new construction, demolition, and alterations that are visible from a public way. The establishment of an NCD recognizes the particular design and architectural qualities of special neighborhoods in Cambridge and encourages their protection and maintenance for the benefit of the entire city.

WHAT PURPOSE DO HISTORIC DISTRICTS AND NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICTS SERVE?
These designations were created to preserve buildings that are architecturally and historically significant. The establishment of such districts recognizes the particular historic and architectural qualities of neighborhoods and buildings in Cambridge and encourages their protection and maintenance for the benefit of the entire City. 
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HISTORIC DISTRICT AND A NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICT?
The regulations in the neighborhood conservation districts are tailored to the needs of the particular neighborhood and are generally less strict than those in historic districts.

DOES BEING IN A HISTORIC/CONSERVATION DISTRICT MEAN THAT I CAN NEVER CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF MY PROPERTY?
No. Properties in historic districts are not frozen in time. Historic district protection is designed to ensure that when changes occur, they do not destroy the unique qualities of the district. 


DOES BEING IN A NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICT MEAN THAT I CAN NEVER CHANGE THE APPEARANCE OF MY PROPERTY?
No. Properties in neighborhood conservation districts are not frozen in time. Neighborhood conservation district protection is designed to ensure that a neighborhood's distinctive qualities are taken into account when changes occur. Most routine and minor changes are reviewed on-the- spot by the Historical Commission staff. Many other changes are reviewed by the neighborhood conservation district commission in an advisory, non-binding capacity. Binding review in a public hearing is generally reserved for major changes, such as demolition, new construction, and major exterior alteration, that would affect neighborhood character.

WHERE ARE CAMBRIDGE'S NEIGHBORHOOD CONSERVATION DISTRICTS?
Neighborhood Conservation Districts are comprised of groups of buildings that are architecturally and historically distinctive. There are four NCDs in Cambridge: Mid Cambridge, Half Crown-Marsh, Avon Hill, and Harvard Square. An online map of the historic districts and neighborhood conservation districts is now available.