Homeless care project might return to court

PARKSIDE—Neighbors of a proposed care and housing facility for the homeless on Walnut Avenue have begun the process of appeal for a lawsuit that seeks to halt the project, according to the defendants.

A group of 11 residents filed a lawsuit against the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the developers in December 2010, hoping to halt the project. That case was decided in favor of the defendants last month.

The developers, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), plan to make the former Barbara McInnis House at 461 Walnut Ave. into a respite care facility with 20 beds on the ground floor and 30 studio apartments for medically frail and elderly homeless people on the upper two floors. Pine Street Inn would manage the studio apartments while BHCHP would manage the respite care facility.

Judge S. Jane Haggerty heard the suit in Superior Court. The plaintiffs alleged that construction of the facility would diminish their property values and increase traffic, demand for on-street parking, artificial light and noise. The judge ruled in favor of the defendants both in standing and merit. Standing refers to the right to sue, not the merits of the arguments.

“We’re very disappointed. The lawsuit was found to be without merit in a very clearly-written opinion,” said Robert Taube, executive director of BHCHP. “A year’s delay in much-needed housing and respite care beds is enough.”

“We’re planning to reach out to the appellants to try and avoid the appeal,” said JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal. “There’s always the possibly of resolution, that this long-waited-for facility doesn’’t get delayed for a lot more time.”

“At this point it’s hard to know” how long the delay might be, Thal continued.

Daniel Wilson, the plaintiffs’ attorney, did not return a Gazette call.

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