December 15th, 2009 | City, News

Residents voice opposition to SOM plans

A visualization of Lord Norman Foster’s ARC ’62 sleek plans for the new School of Management campus.
A visualization of Lord Norman Foster’s ARC ’62 sleek plans for the new School of Management campus. Photo by Taylor Lasley.

One day before the City Plan Commission will hear the proposal for the new School of Management campus, the building’s future neighbors are voicing their opposition to the plan.

Twenty residents of the neighborhood surrounding the site, located on Whitney Avenue and Sachem Street, have signed a petition requesting that the commission hear their concerns about the proposed building.

While one of the petition’s signers, Joe Tagliarini ’83, argued Yale is trying to circumvent current zoning by proposing a “planned development district,” Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93, the University’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, said in an e-mail that the plan will allow for a building that better fits the area. The City Plan Commission will hear the proposal at a meeting Wednesday night.

Though Morand said the SOM community will be a “good neighbor” to the surrounding community, Andrew Drabkin ’01, who helped to write the petition, said neighbors are worried the SOM building will come too close to nearby houses. Drabkin said residents are also concerned about the building’s proposed steel and glass structure, designed by Lord Norman Foster ARC ’62.

“It’s not that they are expecting some kind of colonial revival building,” Drabkin said. “They want something that’s a little more sympathetic.”

Tagliarini wrote in an e-mail that he is concerned the SOM campus will devalue his home, which abuts the new campus. The University has taken steps to mitigate the impact the building will have on his house by adding landscaping, Tagliarini said in a separate interview. But he added that “the reality is that they are just oversized.”

“Aside from the potential of staring up at a wall of glass, I’m concerned about converting my lovely and peaceful backyard into an environment of what I call the ‘fishbowl effect’ — that of SOM’ers staring down at me,” he wrote.

Read the text of the petition below.

We, the undersigned ‘Lincoln-Bradley’ neighborhood residents, strongly object to the zoning changes required for the new School of Management building proposed by Yale University at 155 and 175 Whitney Avenue. Our historic, beautiful neighborhood will be severely impacted by the proposed building. We believe it is out of keeping with its surroundings and will adversely impact us.

The current RO and RM 2 zoning at 155 and 175 Whitney protects us, in our RS 2 zone, from the very type of building that is proposed. We ask you and the Planning Commission to revisit this project and listen to our concerns. We request another hearing on this matter.

We ask you to submit this letter, and the attached pages with our signatures, for the public record on our behalf.