Real Estate Today: Judge issues mixed ruling in 64 Allandale St. lawsuit

September 29, 2017
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A judge has issued a split ruling over the City’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit by a group of abutters–Carl Tremblay, Jacqueline Lees, Stephen P. Bell, Mary Reed, and Elizabeth Bowen Donovan—over the 64 Allandale St. project.

The ruling, issued by Judge Paul D. Wilson of the Suffolk Superior Court on Sept. 18, denied the motion to dismiss over a lack of standing, but granted the motion to dismiss on the spot-zoning claim and several other issues, including citing potential damage to the wetlands as an adverse affect, which narrows the scope of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is one of two court actions against the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Wonder Group, LLC over the controversial project and the variances that were granted for it. Springhouse Senior Living Community has filed the other lawsuit, which requests that the court declare that the ZBA went beyond its authority in granting the variances and that the zoning relief annulled. Springhouse Senior Living Community abuts the proposed project site.

Tony LaCasse of the Allandale Woods Coalition, a group opposed to the current project and that is helping fund the group of abutters’ lawsuit, said that the ruling was “a win,” as the judge threw out the City’s motion to dismiss over lack of standing.

“The suit moves forward,” he said.

LaCasse said that the judge’s ruling on the wetlands and spot-zoning was “significant,” but that there are other venues available for the coalition to address those issues.

Jacqueline Nunez of Wonder Group, LLC, who noted she and legal team were not part of the City’s motion to dismiss, said she was not surprised by the judge’s ruling and that she is “pleased” that the scope of the lawsuit was narrowed.

“As we progress through this litigation, my goal remains the same. I want to build a superb quality residential project that once built, will be a project the neighborhood can be proud of,” she said. “Wonder Group is known for high quality craftsmanship coupled with a strong commitment to build in ways that address the climate related threats facing our communities. I look forward to arriving at a place with the neighborhood that allows me to do both at 64 Allandale.”

The City did not respond to a request for comment.

Nunez plans to build an 18-unit development at 64 Allandale St., which is a reduction of two units from her 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 meeting last year 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 late last year, a decision Mayor Martin Walsh backed.

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