Letter: Gazette is misleading about 71 South St. project

The Gazette’s Aug. 1 story “South Street office-to-houses project shot down” misleads readers about the zoning issues at the 71 South St. site.

First, the Gazette asserts that the “4,684 square-foot-lot…is zoned for a three-family house.” This is incorrect.

In fact, pursuant to Article 55 of the Zoning Code, and as shown on Map 9B, the site is zoned as “3F-5,000,” which means that to build a three-family structure on that site as a matter of right, one needs a minimum of 5,000 square feet. Developer Peter Fenn does not have 5,000 square feet. Consequently, the largest building that can be built as a matter of right at 71 South St. is a two-family building, not a three. As Mr. Fenn wants to build a condominium with four (three-bedroom) units, he seeks to build twice as many units on this small site as the code allows.

Second, the Gazette story suggests that the majority of committee members who voted against the grant of variances for this project, somehow were misguided (“Despite the lengthy process and over an hour of discussions…”), when, in fact, the majority viewed this project as still way too big a building to cram onto a less than 5,000-square-foot lot. The length of the process and the number of hours of discussion may be of interest, but neither is recognized under the Zoning Code as a reason for the City’s Board of Appeal to grant a legal variance.

Third, the Gazette story as a whole creates the impression of support for Mr. Fenn’s statement that the folks who reside on the Atwood Square private way are the only “neighbors that matter” and that other close-by neighbors, on South Street, who testified at the committee meeting in opposition, are “inconsequential.”

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council and its Zoning Committee must, of course, consider the views of all close-by neighbors, whether in support of, or in opposition to, a variance requested for any proposed project.

Moreover, in making a recommendation to the City’s Board of Appeal, the council and the committee also must consider what is best for the community at large and make a decision that that is consistent with the intent of the Zoning Code and what the code requires for the granting of a legal variance.

Kevin F. Moloney

Jamaica Plain

Editor’s Note: The writer is the chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council. A correction about the site’s zoning appears in this issue.

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