After Two-Year Process, BLC Unanimously Approve Citgo Sign as Boston Landmark

Over two years after the petition was accepted, the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) unanimously voted to designate the iconic Citgo Sign as a Boston Landmark on Tuesday night.

There were two parts to Tuesday night’s hearing: a discussion and vote to accept the study report that was made publicly available on September 12, and then a discussion and vote on the designation of the sign as a Boston Landmark.

The Commission first voted unanimously to accept the study report, and then public comment was taken on the designation of the sign.

Pam Beale, owner of Cornwall’s pub in Kenmore Square,  is opposed to the designation and said that she was upset that after reading the report prior to this hearing, she discovered that “none of the public comments given in person or submitted in writing have been incorporated into this report,” she said. “It’s unfortunate that nothing the community said inspired any editing to the original report.”

Alizon Frazee of the Boston Preservation Alliance said that over 16,000 people have signed the alliance’s petition to support the sign. “We believe the Citgo sign is an iconic symbol of Boston, a beacon, a true landmark in every sense of the word,” she said. “We know there are some lingering concerns but we are confident that there are solutions to those concerns that we can work through but the first step is to protect the sign, so we encourage you to designate the sign a landmark.”

Todd Satter, staff architect for the BLC, read a list of the public comments received between the time the study report was posted and the date of Tuesday’s hearing. There were 17 people for designation, and nine people opposed to it who submitted comments. There were also a few people who submitted letters but did not choose a side.

Smiledge then asked for questions or comments from the commission, of which there were none. “We’ve been at this a long time,” she said, so it was no surprise that no one had any comments.

After the Commission voted to designate the sign as a landmark, Smiledge discussed the next steps in the process. She said that starting Wednesday, staff will begin to notify the property owners and other agencies who are typically notified. Staff will then create a “vote of designation” document that presents details about the property, a list of how the commissioners voted on the designation, and the date of the vote, Smiledge said.

This document then goes to the city clerk, who “shepherds it through the 45 day mayoral and city council approval process,” Smiledge said. Mayor Walsh will have 15 days to transmit his approval or disapproval, and then the city council will have the remaining 30 days to overturn the decision with a 2/3 vote.

“I do want to thank everybody who has had such a high level of interest and involvement in this process since June 23, 2016 when the petition was accepted,” Smiledge said.

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