Councilor joins condo opponents

GLENVALE PARK—City Councilor Matt O’Malley has joined the chorus of opposition to a developer’s controversial housing project at 207-209 Chestnut Ave.

“I do have some serious concerns about this,” O’Malley told the Gazette. “I do oppose it as it’s currently being developed.”

Developer Pat McKenna plans to demolish an existing vacant house and replace it with two two-family houses. In a controversy that has lasted almost two years, many neighbors complain that the plan destroys the 130-year-old house and several trees. They also express concern about water runoff and possible damage from digging the foundations into rock.

“Just put me down as a patient developer,” said McKenna, adding that he expects to make “cosmetic changes” to take neighbors’ “concerns into consideration.”

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

Scores of public comments sent to the BRA about the project are scathing. “If you move in next to a pig farm, don’t complain about the smell…but if you want to build a pig farm in an established neighborhood, it stinks,” reads one letter.

O’Malley said he is concerned about both the looks and the “potential disastrous results” of problems with runoff and rock-drilling. He said he is discussing the runoff with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission and has heard it has concerns.

At a community meeting about the design last week, neighbors raised concerns that the blueprints are based on incorrect measurements of the lot. O’Malley said the City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) privately told him it is examining that possible situation. But McKenna said that ISD assured him everything is OK.

McKenna told the Gazette on July 17 that the BRA had told him its design review is complete, meaning that construction could soon begin. But BRA spokesperson Melina Schuler said that is not so and that design review likely will continue for a month as public comments are examined.

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