By Sean Horgan
---- — Gloucester’s City Council approved two measures last night that ultimately could help modify the size and scope of the city’s controversial Designated Port Area.
The council, on a 5-4 vote, approved a motion to petition the Massachusetts Legislature to remove the city-owned, undeveloped I-4, C-2 parcel at 65 Rogers St. from the constraints of the DPA.
That vote indicates a shift in some city officials’ allegiance to the DPA and their frustration with the constraints on development that have made it so difficult for the city to properly utilize the site it bought in June 2010 for $1.5 million. A similar measure – advanced, like last night’s motion — by Councilor Bruce Tobey, had gone down on an 8-1 vote last spring, with only Tobey in favor at the time.
“This one I think I can support,” said councilor-at-large Robert Whynott. “It’s time. We need to say, ‘OK, we’ve tried and now it’s time to try something different.”
The council later voted 7-0, with councilor-at-large Joe Ciolino recusing himself and councilor Sefatia Romeo Theken voting “present,” to also approve a supporting the request of Cape Pond Ice owner Scott Memhard to remove his Commercial Street property from the DPA, which requires that 50 percent of any parcel within its boundaries carry a marine industrial and water-dependent use.
Memhard already has received the support of Mayor Carolyn Kirk and the city’s state legislative delegation in his efforts to exit the DPA. State Senate Minority leader Bruce Tarr and state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante currently are drafting a bill that would remove the Cape Pond Ice property, located at 104-106A Commercial St., from the DPA.
In recusing himself from the vote and excusing himself from the council chambers, Ciolino cited his need to avoid any perception of conflict of interest due to his business and personal relationship with Memhard.
Theken, angry that council president Jackie Hardy would not allow Memhard’s lawyer, Meredith Fine, the opportunity to rebut two speakers who opposed the motion to support Memhard’s request, said she voted present because she did not feel she was getting both sides of the story.
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Sean Horgan may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT