Density information was erroneous

May 11, 2007
By

The evidence now is in: Our community was misled on multiple occasions with incorrect density information about the Blessed Sacrament project.

At a meeting before the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee, developer Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation/New Atlantic’s Church Square Community Partners (CSCP) own architect presented the now-damaging evidence by using the exact methodology that they had already told us was incorrect. Was this a deliberate strategy by CSCP to ensure acceptance of their proposal and disarm the opposition?

Complicit in this offense against the community is the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), which, when requested in writing to clarify the proper methodology, repeatedly refused. This resulted in the dissemination of false information across the entire city of Boston, including to the Community Advisory Committee (CAC).

Moreover, the JPNC Zoning Committee appeared lax in performing due diligence in reviewing the technical details; hence no objections to the erroneous information were raised. Instead, with their vote of approval they fueled the fire by reducing fundamental issues of zoning to the mundane.

And then, when the project was submitted to the BRA, the density information, although required by statute, was never included in the Project Notification Form, the primary official application to the city. In addition, the density information for every building appears to again be stated incorrectly on the building application with the Inspectional Services Department. That may explain why the Zoning Committee never checked the documents and had no questions of their own.

As a result, lacking any comment or review by the CAC or abutters, it appears that over 9,400 square feet of additional floor area were added to the project without public review—the majority being market- rate. This oversight is equivalent to nine apartments or three triple-deckers in size over what was presented at the public meeting hosted by the Zoning Committee. Such a massive increase in the amount of floor area should have triggered a full review of the project from all city agencies but has escaped any notice or mention whatsoever.

JP Gazette reporter John Ruch asked specific questions to the developers to explore questions posed by the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association. The developers’ silence suggests they may have had full knowledge that their methodology was mistaken and had chosen not to make corrections on record.

In the name of building affordable housing, benevolent goals should not overrule honest fact- gathering and verification. All too often, too, the crusading rush to vote shown by the Zoning Committee, JPNC, BRA and zoning Board of Appeal is used as a weapon to limit intelligent enquiry.

It is unfortunate that the fate of this most revered and historic campus of church, rectory, convent and schools would ultimately be decided by a process emboldened with widespread disrespect and misrepresentation of the facts by so many people who purport to be acting in the best interests of the community.

James Lesnick, Joel Parry, Maureen Flynn
Jamaica Plain

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