Abutters file lawsuit over 3353 Washington St. project

June 23, 2017
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A group of abutters to the 3353 Washington St. project is suing the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and the limited liability company (3353 Washington LLC) of the developer, Mordechai Levin.

The ZBA last month granted several variances for the project, including for exceeding height limit and for not meeting the minimum parking requirement, for the Green Street portion of the site.

The members of the group suing are Jessica Ricker, Benjamin Mauer, Jonah Rapino, and Helen Matthews. The lawsuit alleges that the ZBA’s decision to approve the variances was “unlawful” and that the abutters would be adversely impacted by the project, including from increased traffic and noise, affordability, and lack of open space, as well as other reasons. The lawsuit seeks to annul the decision to grant the variances. The group has started a fundraising website for the lawsuit at bit.ly/2sTYNkc.

Matthews, a member of Green Street Renters Association, a group that collected more than 500 signatures for a petition calling for more affordability in the proposal, said in a statement, “Since Levin bought this land decades ago when it was inexpensive, he can build more affordable units. And along Washington Street, this is a hot-spot of low-income families in Boston at risk of being pushed out due to rising rents. If Levin builds more affordable units, he’ll help stabilize our community.”

Lisa Timberlake, a spokesperson for the Inspectional Services Department, which oversees the ZBA, said the department does not comment on pending litigation.

Terry Bruce, a spokesperson for the developer, said in an email, “We have not yet had an opportunity to review this situation with our counsel, nor to consider our next step. It is unfortunate, however, that 45 families, including eight families with a need for the affordable housing units, will either be denied, or have to wait for the process to be concluded, to obtain homes in the neighborhood they desire to live in.”

Levin has plans for an $18 million mixed-use development at the intersection of Washington and Green streets. The proposal calls for a 45,737-square-foot building at 3353 Washington St. that would have six stories and include 45 residential units with about 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. It would also have 24 parking spaces at the rear of the building.

The new building would consist of several residential floors over a ground-floor level, and would contain a mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom rental units, some with private outdoor terraces. The plans also call for interior storage for around 20 bicycles. The proposed building would contain eight affordable-housing units on-site.

The Boston Planning and Development Agency board approved the project late last year.

Two neighborhood groups, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) and the Green Street Renters Association, opposed the project before last month’s ZBA hearing, saying that the developer was taking advantage of increased height guidelines in the Plan: JP/Rox, while not living up to its affordability standard.

The Plan: JP/ROX is a planning and development review of the Washington Street Corridor between the Forest Hills T Station and the Jackson Square T Station. The plan was approved by the Boston Planning and Development (BPDA) board earlier this year, but still needs to complete the zoning stage of the process before being implemented.

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