The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) is delaying the zoning review process of the Plan: JP/Rox until after a transportation plan for that area is completed, according to BPDA spokesperson Bonnie McGilpin.
The head of a local neighborhood organization is raising concern over that delay.
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 two and a half years ago, and will eventually create new zoning for the area. The plan underwent several revisions. The latest version can be found here: bit.ly/2k1quTR. The BPDA board approved the plan last March, but the guidelines created will not be legally binding until after the Zoning Commission approves the changes.
“Rezoning is expected to follow the focus on transportation planning,” McGilpin said in an email to the Gazette. “At present, all developers who submit proposals for projects now are being asked to comply with the approved PLAN: JP/Rox guidelines.”
Kevin Moloney, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, is calling the delay “very problematical.”
“The 1993 Zoning Code remains in effect until and unless amended by the Zoning Commission,” he said in an email to the Gazette. “The Plan: JP Rox plan remains in limbo and is not a part of the legal zoning code. The result is that the BPDA continues on its exercise of its sole discretion to ‘cherry pick’ and approve projects that do not comport with the 1993 Code or the Plan: JP Rox plan.”
The Boston Transportation Department is the lead agency in the transportation plan for the area, with BPDA assisting in the department’s effort, according to McGilpin. The plan is officially called JP/Rox Transportation Action Plan and the first public meeting was held on Sept. 19.
During the Plan: JP/Rox process, some residents questioned why a comprehensive transportation plan was not included, especially as improved infrastructure would be needed to be able to support the density that would occur because of the new zoning guidelines.
When asked why the transportation plan wasn’t included in the original process, McGilpin replied, “The PLAN: JP/Rox process did include a Transportation Plan with goals, existing conditions, and specific transportation recommendations. As was mentioned at the last public meeting, the current Action Plan is a recommended follow-up which builds on the PLAN: JP/Rox process and is focused on design and implementation.”
Moloney said that the lack of a transportation plan during the original Plan: JP/Rox process is “a central failure of the process. A good transportation plan and infrastructure are the essential and necessary foundation for all the rest. The Seaport is a good and unfortunate example of transportation thinking coming last. I am afraid that MassDOT is making the same mistake in Allston with the West Station. As for JP Rox, a decision was made to speed the process and not take the time and spend the money necessary for a good transportation plan component.”
A second meeting on the transportation plan is expected later this winter, according to McGilpin.