Members of civic groups express concern on JP/Rox study

April 29, 2016
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Members of several civic groups who represent areas within the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) Plan: JP/Rox corridor study have written a letter to Mayor Martin Walsh and the City Council asking that no new developments be approved unless they adhere to the emerging guidelines from the study.

The Mayor’s Office and the City Council President’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, BRA senior planner Marie Mercurio, who is spearheading JP/Rox, said in an interview earlier this month that the process is “three quarters of the way through” and hopes to have recommendations in front of the BRA board in July. The BRA will hold a meeting May 6 to further discuss the study. (See: Agenda)

Plan: JP/Rox covers the zoning of Washington Street between the Arborway and Egleston Square, and Columbus Avenue between Egleston and Jackson Squares. It is a process that began last summer.

The letter sent by the civic group members state that “a serious problem has arisen” with developers submitting projects ahead of the expected new zoning that will result from Plan JP/Rox and that proposed developments do not address the community concerns raised so far in the process, including stronger affordable-housing requirements and other community benefits in exchange for “height or density in excess of the current zoning.”

“We have invested much time and energy in working on what we hope will be a good plan for development. Asking the community to work with one office in the BRA on new zoning while another office in the BRA allows developers to skirt the intent of the new zoning is unwise, counterproductive, and wrong,” states the letter.

The letter calls on the City, through the BRA and the Zoning Board of Appeals, to only allow projects to proceed that follow the emerging guidelines from Plan: JP/Rox.

“We, as community members, pledge to withhold our support of any project that does not make a good faith effort to incorporate these guidelines,” the letter states.

The signers of the letters are Joan Becker, co-chair, Chilcott Place Granada Park Neighborhood Association; Leslie Belay, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Bernard Doherty, Asticou Neighborhood Association; Betzaida Fuentes, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Jake Glickel, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Ron Hafer, Egleston Square Neighborhood Association; Martha Karchere, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Isabel Leon, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Reva Levin, Parkside Neighborhood Association; Luis Prado, Egleston Square Neighborhood Association; Susan Pranger, co-chair, Chilcott Place-Granada Park Neighborhood Association; Carolyn Royce, Egleston Square Neighborhood Association; Scott Shear, Brookside Neighborhood Association; Alvin Shiggs, Advisory Group Plan JP/Rox, Egleston Square Neighborhood Association; Diane Simpson, Brookside Neighborhood Association; Dan Thomas, Advisory Group Plan JP/Rox, Chilcott Place-Granada Park Neighborhood Association; Donna Tremonte, Brewery District Neighborhood Crime Watch Group.

When the Gazette asked the BRA for comment, spokesperson Nick Martin resent an earlier statement: “There are understandably questions about how new development proposals will be impacted by the unfinished Plan JP/Rox process, and we appreciate those concerns. We have tried to be clear from the start that putting a moratorium on development while the planning process is completed isn’t realistic or in our collective best interest. However, we remain committed to evaluating new proposals based on the feedback we’ve received and the vision that is being established through the planning process.”

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