Raw dovecote becomes albatross in Forbes Estate project for Cambridge City Council
An alleged dovecote has had enough ruffled feathers among Cambridge advisers to look into the heritage aspects of the proposed development of the Forbes Estate.
After three hours of discussions and delegations on July 13, city council decided to postpone the request for Part IV designation of the Forbes Estate, removing the stone tower for conservation and allowing the demolition of the secondary buildings. The postponement was carried 6-3, with Councilors Scott Hamilton, Donna Reid and Pam Wolf voting against.
With this postponement, Matthew Blevins, City Director of Planning, recommended that council also postpone a report on changes to the zoning by-law and the draft plan of subdivision on the Forbes Estate property, as developers Polocorp Inc. wanted it to be seen as a whole. In addition, any change in heritage aspects could affect zoning changes.
Council required unanimously.
The albatross around the council’s neck, however, came with the proposed relocation of the stone tower.
Com. Mike Devine said he researched the “iconic” tower and believes it to be a dovecote. Originally from Ireland, the dovecotes were built to house doves and pigeons to eat. He added that the stone tower would also be the oldest structure on the property.
“It would be ideal if he could stay there,” said Coun. Mike Mann added.
Abraham Plunkett-Latimer, the city’s senior heritage planner, said that although the tower has cultural significance and was built in the mid-19th century, there is no evidence that it is a dovecote and does not justify a special designation.
Devine was adamant, however.
“I don’t think we’re ready for this motion,” he said, before suggesting that the house’s designation be removed from the report and voted on separately.
Blevins said Polocorp would prefer to keep it together.
“I am not concerned with the designation of the house. I think it’s a good thing for the community, ”Devine said.
“But the other things that I think we have to deal with, we have to put a little finer pen to things.”
The Council decided not to withdraw the designation from the report.
However, according to Plunkett-Latimer, keeping the tower on the property could lead to grading issues and talk about integrating it into the existing trail system, as a destination, could cause people to flock around the homes in the development.
Kevin Worley, who lives at 151 Guelph Avenue and lives next to the tower, said he didn’t want it renovated for tourists because he would rather no one visit his property.
The postponement also left Reid wondering why council was questioning aspects of the reports so late in the process, especially since the heritage concessions made by Polocorp were accepted by city staff and the City Advisory Committee on the heritage.
“We’re back to the same thing in my opinion,” said Reid.
“I just feel like we’re going backwards instead of forwards. And I prefer to go ahead.
With the second postponement, council never even discussed residents’ concerns over the development, which included an internal street – Forbes Avenue – that will run between Shaw Avenue and Guelph Avenue and which has them. set on fire.
Residents said the increased traffic on already busy Guelph Avenue and the addition of vehicles on peaceful Shaw Avenue, which leads to the trail system, is a safety concern.
Others have had issues with the development itself, which includes 37 single-family homes, 12 townhouses, and 132 stacked townhouses. The stacked row houses would have four stories. There would be an acre of open space on the east side of the property.
“The fact that the zoning needs to be changed so much for this development to progress in the draft subdivision plan before council tonight is proof that it does not fit well with the identity of our community,” said the resident. Danielle Lindamood.
Staff were tasked with returning to work with the developer, with Coun. Jan Liggett suggested that the ACO Cambridge Heritage Group be involved in the discussions.