101 Brookley Road could see construction soon

November 7, 2014
By

STONYBROOK—A proposed housing development on a 1-acre site at 101 Brookley Road is getting a second look from the City’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD) and the neighborhood association, and the developer could begin construction on two of 12 triple-deckers soon.

Residents say they’re happy they’re getting some influence on the developer thanks to ISD’s involvement. But it remains unclear why the entire project did not undergo a unified public review typical of such redevelopment. And the future of the other 10 proposed buildings is unclear.

According to Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) member Jennifer Uhrhane, neighbors and officials met in late September with developer Yan Schecter’s representatives. Those in attendance included Ray Mitrano, the project architect/consultant; lawyer Kevin Joyce; ISD Commissioner William “Buddy” Christopher; Lisa Coveney from ISD Constituent Services; and Jullieanne Doherty, the City’s neighborhood coordinator for JP.

“We’re just doing what the mayor asked us to,” in getting involved and making sure the neighbors are involved, Christopher told the Gazette last week. “We want to make sure we’re doing this the right way.”

Plans for two three-family buildings at 91-93 and 95-97 Brookley Road meet zoning codes and can be built as-of-right, Christopher said. Although updated plans need to be submitted to ISD, no obstacles to these two buildings are currently identified and construction could start soon, Uhrhane said.

Neighbors are still concerned about the exterior design of the buildings, the high water table in the site, which could lead to the buildings losing their planned basements, and the density of the whole design, which Uhrhane described as, “many tall, long, narrow buildings with minimal space in between.”

ISD and the neighbors expect these concerns to be addressed as the process continues.

A Gazette email to Schecter was not returned.

According to ISD spokesperson Lisa Timberlake, Schecter has filed for an amendment to decrease the floor-to-area ratio and modify the exterior design, though he has not yet paid for the permit amendment or filed updated plans.

A major concern early on in this project development was the fact that the community worried that Schecter had subdivided the large property into 12 smaller lots, then filed individual plans for each building, to avoid oversight by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). If the entire project had been filed as one development, the BRA would have extensive oversight, including design review and at least one public meeting. At least two prior redevelopment plans for the site went through BRA review.

“There is no mechanism currently in place that would trigger Large Project Review” by the BRA, Christopher said. “The way it stands right now, we’ve been asked to permit two three-family houses as of right. There are no violations at all.”

“We believe the developer is acting in good faith by meeting with the ISD, [Office of Neighborhood Services] and [the] community group to provide full disclosure of the proposed projects and also address the community’s questions, comments and concerns regarding the proposed project,” Timberlake said in an email.

Neighbors currently are pleased with the level of interaction with the developer as created by ISD’s involvement.

Concerns still remain over access to the back of the property, as Lotus Street, the only access point, is listed as a private way and would not support construction traffic. It is unclear whether the completed development would require access to Lotus Street after construction.

Once the site of a nursing home, the large lot has been the subject of various unsuccessful condo plans over the past 20 years.

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