3553 Washington St. lawsuit is dismissed

November 25, 2017
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Judge Mark Hallal has granted the motion to dismiss the lawsuit over Mordechai Levin’s proposed 3353 Washington St. development, citing a lack of standing from the plaintiffs.

Lawyers for developer Mordechai Levin and his limited liability company (3353 Washington LLC) filed the motion this summer after a group of Green Street residents—Jessica Ricker, Benjamin Mauer, Jonah Rapino, and Helen Matthews—filed a lawsuit against the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and the Levin’s limited liability company. The ZBA 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 lawsuit alleged that the ZBA’s decision to approve variances was “unlawful” and that they 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 also alleged that spot zoning was used in granting the variances. The lawsuit sought to annul the decision to grant the variances.

A memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss said that the group lacked standing to challenge the zoning decision because they aren’t abutters or abutters to abutters of the property. Because of that, the memo says, the group needs to show that the variance decision will cause them “substantial injuries that are separate from the community as a whole.”

Hallal agreed that the group lacked standing. He said in his ruling that the “plaintiffs have failed to assert and substantiate allegations they are ‘persons aggrieved.’ Therefore, they do not have standing to assert their zoning claims, and the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction to hear them.”

The Inspectional Services Department, which oversees the ZBA, and a spokesperson for the developer did not respond to a requests for comment.

The group of abutters who filed the lawsuit released a statement saying, “After our case’s first hearing, the judge apparently doesn’t see how the building will cause any personal harm to the four of us plaintiffs. However, we respectfully disagree – it’s reasonable to expect that we, as residents living a few doors from Mordechai Levin’s property, will be heavily impacted by his plan for large, dense, luxury housing at 3353 Washington Street, and we feel we should at least have standing to demonstrate our case. We’ve already filed a motion to reconsider the decision, since we are still 100 percent in this effort. We won’t turn away from this case without exhausting all legal avenues.”

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 (which consists of members now involved with the lawsuit), opposed the project before the 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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