Chestnut Ave. condo review extended

July 6, 2012
By

GLENVALE PARK—The public comment period about the design of a proposed housing development at 207-209 Chestnut Ave. has been extended by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) through July 13.

Developer Pat McKenna will host a community meeting about the project on July 10. [See JP Agenda listing.]

McKenna plans to demolish an existing vacant house and replace it with two two-family houses. Neighbors complain that the plan destroys the 130-year-old house and several trees, and have expressed concern about drilling for the houses’ foundations.

The project requires no zoning variances. But it falls under the Glenvale Park Neighborhood Design Overlay District, which requires BRA review of the design to make sure it is consistent with the architecture and historical nature of many nearby homes.

The Chestnut Avenue controversy has dragged on for nearly two years. It is just one of several recent housing projects, including one on Rosemary Street and another McKenna development on Zamora Street, that have triggered neighborhood concern about a lack of notice and input, which is not required because the projects meet the local zoning code.

City Councilor Matt O’Malley told the Gazette that he is hearing increasing complaints from neighbors wanting more discussion about the so-called “as of right” projects that meet zoning code. He said he is considering ways to improve communication without harming developers’ rights.

“I’m certainly not a NIMBY type,” said O’Malley, referring to the traditional description of development opponents’ attitude as “not in my back yard.” But, he added, communication is important, and Jamaica Plain housing generally looks good because of sensitivity to the surrounding neighborhood.

Comments about the Chestnut Avenue project can be sent to BRA planner Marie Mercurio at marie.mercurio.bra@cityofboston.gov.