Opponents plan to challenge 64 Allandale St. project in court

A group of opponents to the 64 Allandale St. project is saying that they will challenge in court the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) decision to grant variances for the project.

Meanwhile, a long-awaited decision from the state Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was issued, saying that the revised proposal does not have any wetlands on the site.

Jacqueline Nunez, the developer of the 64 Allandale St. project, originally planned to build 20 units at 64 Allandale St., but reduced it by two units and increased the green space in the southeast corner of the site. The project consists of renovating a farmhouse and building several townhouses on a road snaking down towards Allandale Woods. The proposal would have one affordable-housing unit. The other units would likely cost in the million-dollar range.

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 vast majority of attendees at a Nov. 7 meeting on the revised proposal spoke out against the project, expressing concerns over density and the affect on Allandale Woods, among other issues. The ZBA granted the project more than 50 variances last month, a decision Mayor Martin Walsh backed.

When the Gazette asked the developer for comment on the environmental ruling and the opponents saying they plan to file a lawsuit, Nunez released the following statement through a spokesperson:

“As Boston looks to become more resilient and energy-efficient we envision this project as a model for sustainable development in New England and beyond. From the implementation of Net Zero energy consumption to our environmentally responsible goals, this project will improve the ecology, protect and enhance Allandale Woods, while also providing much-needed housing to the community.”

The opponents who are planning a court challenge are calling themselves the Allandale Coalition and will host a fundraiser for their legal challenge on Jan. 29 at Kelleher’s Bar and Grille in Roslindale.

Frank O’Brien, a spokesperson for the coalition, released a statement saying that the ZBA “excused over 50 zoning violations with, we believe, no legal justification.”

“We had hoped that the public process would result in a site-appropriate development plan, with a final resolution achieved by reasonable negotiation lead by Mayor Walsh,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, Mayor Walsh ignored the community clear consensus, instead privileging a luxury housing developer over Springhouse seniors, hundreds of residents and the unanimous recommendation of all Allandale-area neighborhood associations.”

The statement went on to say, “We believing that respecting communities, enforcing zoning rules and furthering sustainable development and affordable housing are interconnected, important issues, we now, regretfully, must challenge the City’s zoning approval in court. Once Mayor Walsh’s zoning board issues its final ruling, we will prepare the necessary documents to place the 64 Allandale development before the Suffolk County Superior Court.”

Meanwhile, the Boston Conservation Commission (BCC) ruled 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. MassDEP later confirmed that ruling.

The developer and opponents filed new petitions last year over the wetlands issue. MassDEP did a site walkthrough in October and released a decision last month. The decision said that because of a plan revision by the developer, a new potential wetlands issue was avoided and that there are no wetlands on the site.

 

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