At the initial Zoning Commission hearing on the Hine Redevelopment project (14 June), the session began with a lot of procedural matters. There were instructions to the audience on how to behave and discussions among the 4 Commissioners as to which groups would be given party status, which enables them to cross examine witnesses.
Three community groups (Eyes on Hine, Hine School North Neighbors, and EMMCA) and Diverse Management (which owns the Sunday flea market operations) were successful in their bids to gain status. A few others were denied.
Then, Stanton Eastbanc the developer of Hine and the applicant before the ZC was given an hour to present its case. The presentation included testimony by two of the SEB partners, the architect, and the firm that designed the landscaping. For anyone who has sat through the numerous Hine presentations over the last few years, this ZC one was not much different in content but clearly structured for the purposes of informing the ZC Commissioners.
There was a bit of drama when the lawyer for Diverse Management aggressively grilled the landscape architect during cross examination. Many of the questions were outright rude and beside the point. But, DM is fighting for its livelihood as there is no guarantee that once Hine is built and the new Eastern Market legislation is in place that DM or the owner of the Saturday market will be back running a “flea market.” Most of the vendors could be accommodated but this notion has been lost in the “Save the Flea Market” campaign being waged by the 2 current owners.
Next up to testify was the Office of Planning (OP) who summarized its report. This report is in basic agreement with plans of the Hine applicant but has a few quirks. A major one is a recommendation for cantilevering one of the buildings facing the Plaza to enlarge it, an odd design feature that the Historic Preservation Review Board would surely not support.
Donna Scheeder, chair of the Eastern Market Citizen’s Advisory Committee, then testified. The EMCAC statement focused on the need for parking in the area and did a powerful job of blowing a big hole in the controversy over the size of the Plaza for weekend flea markets. On parking EMCAC supported the developer’s plan to provide over 300 spaces in the underground garage. On the flea market, EMCAC put the flea markets in context with the rest of the Saturday/Sunday outdoor elements at Eastern Market and with the pending new Eastern Market legislation that will alter the governing structure of the Market.
After some grilling of Ms Scheeder by the DM lawyer, the 1st ZC session on Hine concluded after 4 hours give or take 10 minutes or so.
Note: All of the prepared statements by witnesses are available on the Zoning Commission’s website under Case # 11-24. Also available on the website is video of all the sessions.