* The author is an attorney and President of New Ecology, Inc. (NEI), a non-profit environmental organization that promotes economic development in urban communities. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Boston College Law School and Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the interests of full disclosure, NEI has provided planning and legal support to the Mystic View Task Force, one of the parties involved in the redevelopment project that is the subject of this essay.
1 Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities 448 (1961).
2 Id. at 3.
3 Massachusetts Executive Office of Envtl. Affairs, The State of Our Environment 53 (Apr. 2000).
4 Willaim Shutkin, The Land That Could Be: Environmentalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century 66 (2000).
5 This estimate comes from Sam Bass Warner, who, along with two colleagues, has undertaken a study of the cost of pollution control and mitigation as a result of impervious surfaces in Cambridge.
6 Shutkin, supra note 4, at 64.
7 Massachusetts Executive Office of Envtl. Affairs, supra note 3, at 24-25.
8 See Thinking Ecologically: The Next Generation of Environmental Policy 1-37, 60-76 (Marian R. Chertow & Daniel C. Esty eds., 1997).
9 Jacobs, supra note 1, at 448.
10 Somerville’s Last Frontier, Community F. (Mystic View Task Force, Somerville, Mass.), May 22, 1999 at 18 [hereinafter Last Frontier]. Most planners and environmental psychologists agree that a healthy, safe urban environment requires at least six acres of open space per 1000 residents, and that’s a bare minimum. See id.
11 See Jacobs, supra note 1, at 448.
12 See David Quammen, Planet of Weeds: Tallying the Losses of Earth’s Animals and Plants, Harper’s Magazine, Oct. 1998, at 67-68.
13 Peter J. Howe, Somerville, MA: The New Power Address, Boston Globe, Sept. 24, 2000, at G1.
14 See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 13.
15 The Amelia Earhart Dam, constructed in the 1960s, still stands. It was built to hold back tidal surges and maintain a constant depth in the Mystic. As a result of the dam, the river channel was straightened, providing enough soil material to create the footings for the construction of Interstate 93 in the early 1970s. See id. at 9.
16 See id. at 5.
17 See id. at 6.
18 See id. at 5.
19 See Thomas Bender, Toward an Urban Vision: Ideas and Institutions in the Nineteenth Century 39-40 (1975).
20 See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 6.
21 See id.
22 See id.
23 See id.
24 See id.
25 See id. The Mystic View Task Force, the community group promoting an alternative to big-box, car-dependent development in the Assembly Square area, wants to rename the area Mystic View, reasserting the primacy of the river and emphasizing the importance of place and ecology in any development scheme. See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 8.
26 See id. at 9.
27 See id. at 18.
28 See id. at 9.
29 See id.
30 See id. at 9-10.
31 See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 14.
32 See id.
33 See id. at 10.
34 See id.
35 Id. at 1.
36 See id.
37 See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 1. The information about the community forum and the content of the Task Force’s development plan is taken from the Last Frontier report and related Task Force-produced documents.
38 For an interesting account of New York City’s attempt to restore native plant species to city lands, see Kirk Johnson, Return of the Natives: Playing God in the Fields, N.Y. Times, Nov. 12, 2000, at 33. Among other issues, the story presents the knotty problem of determining exactly what is “native” to a place in light of ecological disequilibrium and the ever-changing nature of habitats over extended time periods. See id.
39 See Last Frontier, supra note 10, at 19.
40 The National Development Corporation also has an ownership stake in the Mall. For the purposes of this essay, however, only Taurus, the lead owner, will be discussed.
41 See generally The Cecil Group, Inc., Assembly Square Planning Study (2000).
42 See id. at 2.
43 Nathaniel W. Cook, One, Possibly Two, Aldermen to Leave, Boston Globe, Nov. 12, 2000, at 4.
44 A PUD is a comprehensive site plan in which a mixture of land uses, open space and buildings are developed as a single entity.
45 See Somerville, Mass., An Ordinance Amending the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Somerville By Establishing an Assembly Square Interim Planning District (Aug. 22, 2000).
46 See id.
47 See William McDonough & Michael Braungart, The Next Industrial Revolution, Atlantic Monthly, Oct. 1998, at 82.