Local Government and Politics, News

Revere City Councilor-at-Large mulls a moratorium on apartment construction

REVERE — If City Councilor-at-Large George Rotondo gets his way, apartment construction will come to a halt, temporarily.

On Monday night, the council will consider his measure that would implement a four-month building moratorium on proposals of six units or more.

If passed, the 120 days would be used to study the impact of more homes on schools, traffic, emergency response time, water and sewer, and the quality of life in Revere. The proposal also calls for a series of hearings and a community survey on development.

Since 2015, more than 650 apartment units have been constructed, 500 are being built, and another 500 are in the permitting stages, according to Robert O’Brien, the city’s Economic Development director.

Last year, Rotondo proposed to put a hold on large scale residential construction of 40 units or more. But the measure went nowhere.

Rotondo declined to comment.

The plan has the support of City Councilor-at-Large Daniel Rizzo.

“People are tired of this proliferation of apartment buildings,” he said. “The first step towards digging yourself out of a hole is to stop digging.”

Rizzo expects the plan to win the support of the council, he said.

“Unless all the councilors are tone-deaf, I expect it to be approved,” he said. “This rampant construction citywide has led to overcrowding and rat problems. In 2015, I proposed a two-year moratorium on any large-scale development until we studied the issue and rezoned portions of the city.”

Rizzo criticized Mayor Brian Arrigo saying the mayor has allowed widespread construction city wide.

“He’s already built on every square foot and he’s advocating for 3,000 more units on the Revere side of Suffolk Downs,” Rizzo said

Arrigo defended his administration’s record of housing construction and said he is not convinced a moratorium is the way to go.

“We’re not going to let opportunities like the redevelopment of Suffolk Downs be passed up for political reasons or for a short period of time to examine things we look at daily,” he said. “There is some concern about the number of kids in school and that’s an analysis we do every day.”

The mayor said if projects in the pipeline are excluded from the proposed ordinance, there are not many opportunities left for large-scale housing developments.

“The point is, we should not be sending a message saying we don’t want anything to happen,” Arrigo said. “Doing nothing is not an option. That’s not my message as mayor, and I don’t think it’s the community’s message. The message we want to send is we have lots to offer, and we want to see transformative development happen. Having a moratorium doesn’t line up with that vision.”

City Councilor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto said he is not likely to support the moratorium.

“I’m not looking to kill a fly with a sledgehammer,” he said. “I don’t like knee-jerk reactions to problems.”

City Council President Jessica Ann Giannino and City Councilor-at-Large Steven Morabito did not return calls seeking comment.

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