Plan: JP/Rox study heads to BPDA board; opposition remains

February 10, 2017
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The Plan: JP/Rox study is slated to go before the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) board during its next meeting, but neighborhood groups continue to draw issues with the current proposal.

The BPDA board will review the plan during its March 2 meeting and will likely approve it. The BPDA staff only submits material to the board when they consider the plans ready for approval. This reporter has never seen a project or plan voted down by the board. The plan would still need to be approved by the Zoning Commission before it is officially accepted.

Plan: JP/Rox is the long-awaited planning study for the Columbus Avenue and Washington Street corridor, from Jackson Square to Egleston Square to Forest Hills. The planning study was launched more than a year and a half ago, and will eventually create new zoning for the area. The plan has undergone several revisions. The latest version can be found here: bit.ly/2k1quTR.

The latest version of the plan still has some neighborhood groups concerned, including “Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice.” The group staged a 24-hour vigil at City Hall starting the evening of Feb. 6, asking for a delay in the vote so more affordability and stronger anti-displacement measures could be added.

“At a time when our national government is threatening to rip families from our homes, Boston is starting to rise to the challenge of  creating a safe space for all to dwell,” said Danielle Sommer, a member of the group, in a statement. “This is admirable, but the City continues to participate in the displacement of families from their homes through development policies. In order to protect families, the City must also stand and provide affordable housing for everyone, including those with the most need.”

BPDA spokesperson Bonnie McGilpin released a statement saying that the plan makes “significant strides towards maintaining housing affordability and the diversity of this neighborhood, preventing displacement and shaping growth that is inclusive.”

“The plan leverages growth and development to create new opportunities for affordable housing and other benefits to the local community,” the statement goes on to say. “This plan is a result of a collaborative effort among multiple City departments that strikes a balance between the feedback received throughout the process. The BPDA looks forward to continuing to work with the community and many stakeholders as PLAN: JP/Rox moves forward.”

When the Gazette asked Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council chair Kevin Moloney about the plan heading to the board, he replied that it still has “substantial deficiencies” and cited a Jan. 25 letter he sent to BPDA head Brian Golden. In that letter, he requested an “increased commitment by the BPDA to housing affordability,” among other commitments.
The Neighborhood Alliance, which is a collection of civic groups in the study area, sent a Feb. 7 letter to Golden that did not ask that a vote be delayed on the plan, but expressed appreciation for the opportunity over the last several months to discuss with the City their concerns.

“While we still have outstanding concerns, we believe the plan is better for the additions and revisions that came out of these discussions,” the letter states.

The “Keep It 100 for Real Affordable Housing and Racial Justice,” which is part of the alliance, did not sign the letter.

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