FOREST HILLS—Bicon Dental Implants, a 501 Arborway business that has a history of zoning controversies and refusing to meet with neighbors about construction on its property, had its latest construction project halted by the city last week.
The stop-work order followed a Gazette visit to the site and request for comment from the city Inspectional Services Department (ISD) Sept. 29. During the visit, the Gazette observed a wall was being constructed on the Yale Terrace side of the building.
Construction workers and a Bicon representative who came out to speak to the Gazette declined to identify themselves or comment on the construction project.
Bicon officials did not respond to subsequent Gazette phone calls by press time.
In an email early this week, city ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake said the wall is intended as a “retaining wall for a patio.”
Bicon “went a little overboard on some landscaping changes,” she said.
“It’s noisy as hell. They are running cement saws…They blocked off the street with their cement mixers without warning,” said local resident Kosta Demos. Prior to the stop-work order construction had been going on for two weeks, he said.
Demos also complained that Bicon has not lived up to other agreements it has made with neighbors in the past, including that it would build a shelter for its Dumpster, and a fence or other buffer around its parking lot to keep car headlights from pouring into the windows of nearby residences.
Those conditions were negotiated between Bicon and neighborhood residents last year as the conclusion to a long-standing controversy about the dental implant business’s sign.
The sign has been up for close to a decade, but it is technically not an allowed use, so Bicon needs a zoning variance for it. “Freestanding signs are normally not allowed except for gas stations,” David Baron, head of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s Zoning Committee told the Gazette.
ISD issued Bicon a citation for the sign in 2007, but, following the successful negotiation of an understanding between neighbors and the business last year, gave Bicon the go-ahead.
The only permit ISD had on file for Bicon was one for replacing the freestanding sign in front of the building, issued in May.
The sign became a major issue in the neighborhood because of a previous effort by Bicon to open an Italian restaurant in the third floor of its building without consulting the neighborhood or seeking city approval.
The 2006 sign controversy started neighbors wondering about how Bicon had managed to make previous alterations to its building, including building the third story, without any community consultation.
There is a chance that Bicon will be able to move forward with its patio wall work unhindered once it gets a construction permit from ISD, Baron said.
“Will they need a variance? I’m not sure,” he said. “Increasing impermeable surface—taking away from green space and making it part of the building” could be grounds for a variance, he said.
Another outstanding issue is whether Bicon’s building is in a green-space planning overlay district. Residents in the past have maintained that it is, while Bicon and the city have gone back and forth on the issue. Bicon sought Parks Department approval for its sign plans despite maintaining that it did not need it.