Residents reject revised 64 Allandale St. proposal

Jacqueline Nunez, the developer of the 64 Allandale St. project, brought a revised proposal to a Nov. 7 community meeting, but the vast majority of attendees rejected it, expressing continuing concerns, including over density and the affect on Allandale Woods.

About 50 people attended the meeting at the Roche Family Community Center in West Roxbury.

Nunez had planned to build 20 units at 64 Allandale St., but has reduced it by two units and increased the green space in the southeast corner of the site. The project would now have one affordable-housing unit. The development team said at the meeting that the project will need more than 50 variances and has a construction schedule of 18 months.

The project would abut Allandale Woods, which is an “urban wild” of about 100 acres of City- and private-owned land in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury. The woods is roughly formed by Allandale and Centre streets, the VFW Parkway and Hackensack Road.

The site at 64 Allandale St. is on the border of West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. It is part of the West Roxbury Neighborhood District, as a matter of zoning.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board approved the originally proposal earlier this year. Christopher Tracey, BPDA project manager for the proposal, defended the board’s decision to approve the project back then, saying the developer made changes, including increasing the setback between the buildings and Allandale Woods. He said that the project is not as dense as other projects in the area. That comment was later criticized by attendees, who said that the 64 Allandale St. project is unique, as it abuts Allandale Woods.

Tracey said the because of the new changes made to the proposal, the project will need to go back to the BPDA board. He said that is BPDA staff is leaning to recommend the project for the Nov. 17 BPDA board meeting. If that happens, the board will likely approve the revised plan.

Opponents at the Nov. 7 meeting cited that the project goes against current zoning for the area, that neighborhood groups have voted against the project, the potential damage the project could have on Allandale Woods, and that Nunez has not held constructive talks with critics and neighbors. Attendees also criticized Nunez for not offering a conservation easement to add to Allandale Woods, saying other projects around the urban wild had done so.

“It’s not a park, it’s a forest,” said Tony LaCasse, a member of the Friends of Allandale Woods, a group fighting against the proposal. “It’s a bad idea on a bad site.”

Nunez countered by saying she offered a 40-foot conservation easement to the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, which refused it. She also said she offered the Friends of Allandale Woods $50,000 to go towards the urban wild. Several attendees shouted, “Bribe.”

The Gazette spoke with Christopher Cook, commissioner of BPRD, about the conservation easement. He said in a phone interview that that was brought up during talks between the developer and BPRD, but that BPRD does not handle conservation easements. That falls under the Boston Conservation Commission (BCC), he said.

The BCC has already been involved with the project, ruling last year that the site falls under the state Wetlands Protection Act. There are no wetlands on the 64 Allandale St. property, according to the ruling, but a portion of the property falls within a 100 foot buffer zone under the Wetlands Protection Act. That does not prevent Nunez from building the project, but she needs to jump more environmental review hurdles for it to happen. MassDEP later confirmed that ruling.

Nunez and opponents recently filed new petitions over the wetlands issue and it is unclear if the new petitions would affect that decision. MassDEP did a site walk last month and did not respond to a request to comment on whether a decision has been made.

The project was expected to go before the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals last month, but the developer deferred and the hearing was rescheduled for December.

 

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