By Lauren Bennett
After a lengthy process, Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) voted 17 to 5 on Feb. 11, to not oppose the proposed project at 50 Stedman Street, which consists of a three story, 21-unit residential building with four Inclusionary Development Policy units and 21 onsite parking spaces.
As previously reported by the Gazette, the project did not pass the SNA vote in November because the setbacks for the abutting lot belonging to the Rigos were at eight feet, two feet short of the required 10 feet for zoning. They were also concerned about what, if any, support would be given to Bill Miceli, who’s auto service shop is currently located on the property.
SNA steering committee member Danielle Cerny gave those in attendance at the February meeting a recap of what was discussed at the January meeting. She said that the developer had come back with a new plan showing the new ten foot setbacks for the Rgio property. She said the BPDA “was ready to move on the proposal in January,” as they felt it was an acceptable proposal. However, SNA requested a one-month extension of the vote because it is a “project that’s incredibly important to the community,” she said.
At the January meeting, the group identified three outstanding issues that they wanted to prioritize: fairness of the setbacks for the Rigo property, relocation assistance for Miceli, and community benefits.
Cerny said that since the January meeting, the abutters at 41 Brookley agreed to reduce their setbacks from 12 feet to 11 so the Rigos could go from 10 feet to 11 feet, which would even the setbacks for both lots. The architect has not had a chance to update the plans yet, but that is something that is being worked on, Cerny said.
As for Miceli, “The group cares a lot about making sure Bill is taken care of in this change,” Cerny said. She added that they recognize that it is “incredibly difficult” to find new mechanic space in the city,” so the easiest way to help him would be to secure financial assistance. She said that the development team will provide Bill with pro bono real estate services to help him find a new location, as well as partially fund his moving expenses. Miceli is very busy, so he is unable to attend the SNA meetings but they have been in contact with him about his wishes and desires. Cerny said that Miceli has requested that the SNA not go any farther on this issue. “We are going to respect his wishes,” she said.
SNA member Sue Cibulsky said that she talked to Bill herself and she got the idea that he is concerned about not being fair and he’s afraid he isn’t going to find a location anywhere close by. “He wants to be on good terms with the developer as well,” Cibulsky said.
For community benefits, Cerny brought up the group’s desire to see additional sidewalk repairs as a community benefit so they will be consistent with the neighborhood. The developer previously promised that “the sidewalk in front of 50 Stedman St. will be built to city standards along with roadway improvements acceptable to the layout to be submitted to the Public Improvement Commission. In addition, the team has agreed to add new sidewalk that will continue to Brookley Road adjacent to 41 Brookley,” according to a handout passed out at the meeting.
There was time allowed for people to make two minute comments on the project or ask any remaining questions. Fred Vetterlein, chair of the 50 Stedman Subcommittee, said, that “It’s been our purpose to move this development forward. It’s been a long year and three years ago I spent a year getting this knocked down to three stories from four.”
SNA member Andy Rigo said that he would like to recognize the residents of 41 Brookley for coming up with the “generous compromise—very appreciated,” he said. He said his mother is satisfied now, but her remaining concerns are related to the street and access on it.
“After they off the two sidewalks, there will probably be parking on both sides, which leaves a very narrow street,” he said. He said his mother is very concerned about parking and traffic, especially emergency vehicles.
Andy’s mother, Mary Rigo, said that “there is no room for cars to even go down Stedman St. at this point.”
Vetterlein responded by saying that the street the project proponents have proposed “looks wide.”
Natalie Kaufman from Rep. Malia’s office said that they have asked the Boston Transportation Department for an update. Kaufman said this issue is the responsibility of the city as well as the developer, and they “should be asking the BPDA where they are.”
There was another response to Mary Rigo’s concerns regarding emergency vehicles—someone said that the roads have to be built to be accessible for emergency vehicles in order to be approved for permits.
Jennifer Uhrhane pointed out that the map from the BPDA “designates responsibility for paving sidewalks.”
Jonathan McCudy was against voting for the project without seeing the update plans that reflect the promised changes. He said that “without plans to look at, we can’t really vote on things.”
The SNA took a vote on whether or not to oppose the project contingent upon the proponents “truly showing us updated floor plans with 11-foot setbacks for these properties.”
SNA ultimately voted to not oppose the proposal, and Cerny saoid the next step was to forward the steering committee’s vote to the BPDA before their vote.
The BPDA voted unanimously on Feb. 14, to approve the project at 50 Stedman St. Architect Lucio Trabucco told the BPDA that the ground dloor is about two feet below grade due to the high water table, and explained that the reason he included those dimensions was “that was one of the conversations we had with the abutters as well as the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association,” he said. “We met all their requirements for the setback of the structure.”