The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) held their monthly meeting on June 25 at the Farnsworth House, where they spent the majority of the meeting discussing proposed changes to their bylaws. A few months ago, several Council members were selected to sit on a Bylaws Committee to come up with ways to update the bylaws to reflect the Council as it continues to move forward. After a lengthy discussion of what still needs to be reworked, the Council marked certain changes to go back to and tweak. The committee will report back to the full Council in a month or two, when the changes can possibly be voted on.
The Council voted to remove member Bruce Marks for having missed at least seven of the last 12 Council meetings. After his removal, there are now three vacant seats on the council: two from Area A and one from Area C. According to the JPNC website, Area A is Ward 10, Precincts 6, 7, 8, and 9 (east of South Huntington Avenue); Ward 11, Precincts 4 and 5, and Ward 19, Precincts 4, 6, and 9 (East of Centre St.). Area C is Ward 10, Precinct 9 (west of South Huntington Avenue); and Ward 19, Precincts 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9 (West of Centre Street) and 12. To determine your Ward and Precinct, refer to the map on jpnc.org.
The JPNC hopes to get the word out to as many people as possible to fill the seats.
After the bylaws discussion, the Council heard reports from committee chairs.
Zoning Committee Chair David Baron said that the Zoning Committee met on June 5 and June 19, where they discussed five projects to be voted upon by the entire Council. At 32 Rockview Street, the project proponents proposed to add a 3,500 square foot addition to the existing three-family residence, creating a four-family residence. Baron said this project has come before the committee a couple of times. People had opposition to the project both times, but less the second time. He said that some people thought it was too modern, but the Council ended up voting to approve the proposal with the proviso that the applicant put some sort of sidewalk or pathway separate from the driveway for Units 2 and 4.
At 44 and 46 Marmion St., Baron said these are two adjacent lots, and the proponent wants to construct a new three-family house with a roof deck on the vacant land at 46 Marmion St. At 44 Marmion St., the proponent wants to add a third story to the existing two-family residence to make it a three-family residence. Baron said that he does not recall opposition to this project at the committee meeting, though there were some questions about the design. The Council approved the project with the proviso that the front bathroom at 44 Marmion be relocated so the windows on the second and third floors are consistent.
At 121 Brookside Ave., the project consists of constructing a four-story, mixed-use building with 23 units—2 artist live-work spaces, and 21 condos. Baron said that the Brookside Avenue Neighborhood Association was in favor, as were people who live close by to the project. He said that people were glad to see the artist live-work spaces, and the fact that the design was “substantially changed” to follow PLAN: JP/Rox. The project does require more FAR and units than what is allowed, but people were generally happy to know that it offers more affordable units than the Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP) requires, Baron said. The Council voted to approve the project.
At 32 Perkins St., the proponent wants to renovate the existing three-family house and expand the basement to create an 11-room “boutique hotel,” and at 32R Perkins St., demolish the existing carriage house and create a new 6-room boutique hotel. These particular “boutique hotels” were formerly referred to as “lodging houses.” Baron said the owners plan on using the properties as Airbnbs, but there will be an innkkeeper and it will be run strictly for that purpose. The Council approved the project with the proviso that this approval is for this property owner and business owner only.
A similar project on Wyman St. has also been proposed, and a neighbor on Bolster St. said at the Council meeting that “lodging house” and “boutique hotel” have different definitions. The Wyman St. proejct has faced much more opposition, and the neighbor said he opposes it because Wyman St. is 100 percent residential, and when he moved there, he expected to live on a residential street, not on one where people are constantly coming and going from a lodging house. He believes the addition of that type of building would “fundamentally alter the character of the immediate area,” and also said that parking is already a problem without the lodging house.
The Perkins St. boutique hotel would sit on a residential street, but Perkins St. is also home to Whole Foods and a funeral home, so it is much more mixed than Wyman St., Baron said.
At 9 Rockwood St., the proponent wants to remove/repair walls on rear single-story room, install new roofing over the room and patio, and build a rood over the rear patio. The Council approved this project as-is.
Public Service Committee
Public Service Committee Chair Michael Reiskind said that at the last committee meeting, they continued the discussion of the protected bike lanes. At the next meeting on July 2, they will be discussing two new license requests, one for the hopeful reopening of Irish pub Eugene O’Neill’s, and one for JJPizle Kitchen, which is seeking a beer and wine license.
Housing and Development Committee
JJPNC Chair Kevin Rainsford stood in for committee chair Carolyn Royce, as she was at the final public meeting for the Shattuck campus planning. Rainsford said that this Shattuck meeting ended the community discussion process, and a request for information went out to the state at large, from which many responses were received from different programs who would be willing to develop on the Shattuck campus. The next step is to move to a Request for Proposal process for specific programs to be developed at the site.
The Council also voted to sign onto the list of demands for the city from the IDP Coalition.
Environment, Parks, and Energy Committee
The EPE committee has not had a char for a while now, and JPNC member Esther Tutella-Chen said that what is left of the EPE committee has met over the last few weeks to draft a sheet saying that they need to find a way to create a committee that is working and contributing to the community. She said that right now, it would be in the Council’s best interest to let this committee lie dormant and create a Parks Plus Ad Hoc Committee that would be smaller and more focused on parks, though it could also respond to other environmental issues that may arise. The Council voted to approve this request, and voted Tutella-Chen as chair. The first meeting of the Parks Plus Ad Hoc Committee will be Friday, July 19 at 6:00pm at JP Licks.
Education Ad HOC Committee
Committee chair Trevor Wissink-Adams reported that the committee met with people from the community engagement team at Boston Public Schools, and said that new superintendent Brenda Cassellius is embarking on a listening tour to hear Jamaica Plain’s voice on education. Wissink-Adams said they also reached out to the BPS Welcome Center in Roslindale to see if they can help with piloting a mobile welcome center this fall, but that is still in the works.
He added that BPS is changing their ISEE exam policy, which students can take in sixth grade for entrance to the exam schools. This coming school year, students will be able to take the test in-school rather than on a weekend. Wissink-Adams said that BPS is looking for the JPNC’s help in disseminating that information out to families, and is also hoping for assistance with outreach for partners in the STEM field.