Lawsuit filed over 64 Allandale St. project

March 24, 2017
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A group of abutters to the 64 Allandale St. project have filed a lawsuit in the Suffolk County Court against the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Wonder Group, LLC over the variances that were granted for the proposal.

The lawsuit seeks to have the variances granted annulled and the cost of attorney’s fees paid.

The abutters are Carl Tremblay, Jacqueline Lees, Stephen P. Bell, Mary Reed, and Elizabeth Bowen Donovan.

Jacqueline Nunez of Wonder Group, LLC plans to build an 18-unit development at 64 Allandale St., which is a reduction of two units from the original proposal. 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 year, a decision Mayor Martin Walsh backed.

The lawsuit states that the ZBA granted the variances without a “scintilla of evidence to support granting of a single variances, let along 55 variances” and states that the abutters would be adversely effected, including through the changing character of the neighborhood, traffic, and environmental damage to the Allandale Woods.

“The decision is arbitrary, capricious, against the law, in excess of the board’s authority, and in gross negligence and bad faith,” the lawsuit states.

The Friends of Allandale Woods Coalition, a group that has been fighting the current proposal, released a statement saying it is supporting the group of abutters suing.

“Despite the opposition of six Boston city councilors and all of the adjacent neighborhood associations and councils, the ZBA approved the building of 45-foot tall, luxury townhouses in exceptional density on a steep slope overlooking a large section of this 86 acre woods,” the statement said. “In contrast with the rural character of the neighborhood, all front yard requirements have either have been waived by the City or approved for use as one of more than 40 parking spaces. The ZBA OK’ed once prohibited basement units and approved not having sidewalks for the development’s narrow access road.”

The statement went on to say, “The project claims of sustainability are greatly exaggerated as it is completely car dependent with more than two parking spaces allocated per unit, and the site is not near public transportation. The energy efficient design features of the structures are laudable, but rarely does a housing project come with such high external environmental costs and risks. Allandale Woods is the jewel of Boston Parks Urban Wilds program, which are properties managed for their sense of seclusion in the city. These towering townhouses will loom over and be seen throughout the eastern quarter of the woods effectively removing twenty acres from an urban wild’s primary purpose.

The Mayor’s Office said the City cannot comment due to ongoing litigation.

Nunez released a statement through a spokesperson that said,

“Every developer, who receives variances to build a new project, understands that neighbors may sue to try and stop the project. While we all work hard to compromise and prevent such lawsuits, they happen. I am extremely proud to have received approval for my mid-density 18-unit project, on two acres, that will be Boston’s first Net Zero neighborhood. Projects far more dense are being approved and built throughout Boston as our City strives to create the new housing needed to accommodate the influx of people moving here. We are a thriving city where people want to live. I will continue to talk to the abutters regarding my approved project, and at the same time, explore all options that have availed themselves to me through this approval process.”

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