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Often as I campaign for city council, I am asked for my opinion of the mayoral race and my thoughts on Breanna Lungo-Koehn as our future mayor. Medford needs Breanna Lungo-Koehn. We need her honest, sincere and direct approach to governing. Working with Breanna, I have come to know that she will bring transparency, collaboration, and integrity to city hall.
Over the past four years, Breanna and I have worked side by side, sharing ideas, discussing solutions and implementing resolutions. With teamwork and determination, we have fought against irresponsible and predatory development in favor of preservation and purposeful growth.
Together we have identified and acted on opportunities for increased transparency. Breanna has sponsored two zoning amendments this past year which will increase transparency at the zoning board of appeals. The first amendment, which I spoke in favor of, requires the city to increase notification of abutters to all neighbors within 400 feet, a 50% increase. The second amendment, a “notification panels” ordinance which I proposed, and Breanna sponsored, requires applicants seeking a zoning variance to place a sign on the property announcing that a variance is being sought and provide the time and date of the hearing. This major change to the city's notification requirements alerts all neighbors, owners and renters alike, to potential development in their neighborhood.
Together we have worked to educate and inform the community. This past June, at the start of the summer session, the mayor introduced to the city council a major zoning amendment. This amendment, when codified, would have rezoned a mile-long stretch of Mystic Ave ultimately allowing numerous high-rise residential buildings. The city council, without ANY community participation, voted 4 to 2 to send it directly to the planning board, which is typically a final step in the rezoning process. Breanna and Michael Marks spoke out and voted against this unprecedented action. Never has the city council, who has sole authority over zoning under our charter, instituted a major zoning change without extended and comprehensive discussions on the council floor involving the neighborhoods affected and with consideration of the implications to infrastructure and the city at large.
As a result of that zoning vote, Breanna and I focused our time this past summer on alerting the city to this devastating change to our zoning ordinance. On June 26 Breanna issued a press release outlining a more transparent and sounder approach, and called on the Mayor and City Council to revoke the resolution. Then Breanna continued to speak out against this unprecedented change at every event she attended, including the planning board meeting. I created and distributed graphics and information illustrating the potential impact to the area. The weekend before the August 13 city council meeting, I posted hundreds of signs around the city alerting the residents to the city council hearing on rezoning Mystic Ave. Furthermore, Breanna and Michael Marks had the city issue a citywide reverse 911 call. Due to these efforts, a standing room only crowd at the city council meeting on August 13 forced the Mayor to come before the Council and withdraw her resolution. This was a major victory for transparency and integrity in city government. Thanks to Breanna and Michael Marks the residents of Medford will have a seat at the table when discussing rezoning Mystic Ave.
As a certified Project Management Professional with over 2 decades experience in construction and development, I have a unique perspective of the ongoing and current issues we are facing. Having lived here my entire life, I have intimate knowledge of this city- our strengths, weaknesses and potential. Consequently, I have shared with Breanna my deep concerns and our pressing need for planning that will allow us to invoke safe harbor protections against “40B developments”; thus, placing our city in the best possible position to negotiate with developers. She agrees that Medford needs comprehensive zoning review and a strategic master plan that leads to transformational change and thriving business districts that always protects the neighborhoods.
Given that we are preparing to embark on a comprehensive zoning review, and that we continue to remain under the pressure of predatory development, it is critical that we have leadership that is committed to community engagement and shaping a vision that holistically addresses Medford’s needs. I know, from working with Breanna on these issues, that she is the person who will bring that leadership to city hall. Long before I found my public voice to speak on important matters, there was Breanna. She has been, and continues to be, a voice for the people.
The choices we make on November 5th will determine the future of Medford. I invite you to join me on Tuesday, November 5 in casting a vote for Breanna Lungo-Koehn.
- Jean M Nuzzo
Candidate, Medford City Council