Wednesday, February 7, 2007

When's mitigation mitigation?

On the Tab's blog, Christopher Loh commendably noted my skepticism with New England Development's claim that they have committed $13.5 million to mitigation. (Mr. Loh's Tab article with the New England Development claim. My original entry questioning the mitigation.)

Mr. Loh, appropriately, turned my skepticism back on me, asking the basis for my conclusion that some claimed mitigation should not be considered mitigation. Herewith a summary of my reply ...

The key question is whether or not New England Development will realize a direct and substantial benefit from a proposed measure. If so, then it seems a bit much to suggest that it is a mitigation measure.

Looking at the signalized cut in Route 9 and the widening of Route 9 to 8 lanes, it seems pretty clear that the key beneficiary is Chestnut Hill Square. Without the cut in Route 9, some potential Chestnut Hill Square visitors will pass on a visit rather than deal with an already overloaded Langley Road turnaround. And, if you have a cut in Route 9 and lights, without the road widening you'll have congestion at the intersection from the undifferentiated mix of Chestnut Hill Square traffic and through traffic. CHS-bound cars stopped at a green light waiting to turn left will back up through traffic, which will back up CHS-bound traffic, which will ... you get the point. More disincentive to shop at CHS.

A counterfactual hypothetical might help. If the city (with the commonwealth's blessing) were to say, "We need the tax revenue so badly, we don't even care if you mitigate," would New England Development make the signalized cut in Route 9 and widen Route 9?

For $3.5 million or so, they'd be foolish not to.

Previously: NED's Overstated mitigation commitment

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