JPNC Discusses Zoning, Development Issues

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met for its monthly meeting on November 26. On the agenda was committee reports, as well as discussions about an issue with 701 Centre St.

 After a presentation from Sagie Tvizer from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) regarding the 2020 Census, Max Glikman kicked off the committee updates with a report from the Zoning Committee. At 135 School Street, the proposed project is to convert the existing single family home into a two-family one. There are two applications for 48 St. John St., one to create a curb cut and off-street parking on the Rockview side of the property, and another to extend the living space into the basement. At 71 and 71R May St. Glikman said the owner of the house wants to create a living space for her child’s caretaker. The proposal is to change the occupancy of the rear of the building from a garage to a single-family residence and expand and renovate the rear building. Glikman said there was opposition from the Jamaica Hills Association, as they are worried about setting a precedent for future development in the neighborhood. This was already approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals, but the JPNC Zoning Committee also voted to support it.

At 10 Burr St., the proposal is to build a detached one car garage, and after working out concerns with the neighbors about the insufficiency of the front yard, they are now satisfied, Glikman said. All of the above projects were approved by the JPNC.

Glikman also talked about 73 Sheridan St., which was heard at the last zoning committee meeting. The project is to build three townhouses with eight residential units on the lot at 73 Sheridan St., which includes tearing down the existing home. Though there was no vote taken on this project, the JPNC came up with design comments that they wanted to submit to the city, which include the consideration of more green space, a consideration for the design of the bay windows, approval of the decision for a common driveway, and a consideration to add more details over the windows and doors of the units.

Public Service Committee

The JPNC decided to approve what will be the fifth Dunkin’ in Jamaica Plain. JPNC member Michael Reiskkind reported that the owners of a proposed Dunkin’ at 37 South Huntington Ave.  are requesting a seven-day common victualler license to operate the store from 5:00am to 9:00pm. These particular owners also run two other Dunkin’s, one in Mission Hill on Tremont St., and the other by the Roxbury Crossing Orange Line station. The owners’ daughter, Jjanel Silveira, will be the manager of the new location.

Resikind also reported that the Public Service Committee talked about bicycles and bicycle safety, cigarette containers, and the Faulkner Hospital transportation plan.

Housing & Development Committee

JPNC member Carolyn Royce reported that at the last committee meeting, the JPNDC provided an update on the Mildred Hailey renovations. Royce said “it’s going to be a long process,” and there will be almost 700 units when the project is complete. She said they are hoping to begin construction in 2022, and will take extra time because the project will happen in phases: people have to be moved out of their buildings and into another one while construction is happening.

Royce also said the project proponents are going to apply for a Planned Development Area to get a zoning variance for the entire district so they don’t have to keep going back for separate approvals for each portion of the project. “It’ll make a big difference down there,” Royce said of the project.

Royce also discussed a draft comment letter to the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) regarding the proposed project at 10 Stonley Road. The proposal is a four story building with 45 rental units, and the Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) has been very involved in this particular project. Ten of the units are affordable, with five of them being artist live/work spaces.

The project area sits right on the edge of the Arborway bus yard, and calls for the creation of a residential area in an industrial zone. “We support the residential use of this formerly industrial space,” Royce said, adding that the affordability component meets PLAN: JP/Rox guidelines.

She did mention that there was an issue with the community process surrounding this proposal, and the SNA in particular has concerns about massing and setbacks. Royce said she does not want to see the project move forward until the SNA come to more of an agreement on the project.

Jennifer Uhrhane of the SNA said that “the main core issue has not been addressed” by the team, which she said is the “oversized footprint of the building,” which “causes a domino effect of other issues.” The SNA has concerns about setbacks, stepbacks, height, green space, and shadow issues.

 “We’re trying to get them to shrink the footprint which would take care of a number of the issues as well as increase green space,” Uhrhane said. “They conform to the affordability numbers but they don’t really check off any of the other categories.”

The JPNC voted to send the letter to the BPDA, which addresses what was discussed above.

Parks + and Education Committees

Robin Cheung reported that the Parks + Committee held a community meeting about the Shattuck Campus planning effort, which garnered over 35 attendees.

Trevor Wissink-Adams reported that Superintendent Brenda Cassellius’ listening tour at the English High School on November 25 brought about 125 people to the school for the event. “BPS wanted to share their aspirations and priorities,” he said, adding that the goal is to take feedback from the community from these events and incorporate it into the final draft of the strategic plan by 2020, when it will then be shared.

“I think the event went well,” Wissink-Adams said, “and we will continue to build out the Education Committee.” He said there are more spaces on the committee if others would like to be involved. There will also be a meeting on December 7 at the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library for families to learn about the BPS registration process.

701 Centre St.

JPNC member Gert Thorn talked about a project at 701 Centre St., which has upset several people in the community. Formerly Bukhara’s Restaurant, the building at 701 Centre St. is soon to be a Chase Bank. New windows were installed, and though the building is not landmarked, it is in a neighborhood design overlay district. Many in the community have expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration with the fact that there was no community process before these windows were installed.

 “We live here because of the amenities we have here, the parks, the library, the churches, the stores, the mix of people,” Thorn said. “This building is in a neighborhood design overlay district. Many of us expected to see a historical facade here.”

He said that he and several others contacted the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), and was told that “Chase will have to get a signage review but no discussion of the design.”

“We are supposed to be involved in these conversations,” Thorn said. He said he would like to get the Jamaica Pond Association to sign onto their letter to the city, as well as JP Centre/South Main Streets. The JPNC voted to approve the sending of the letter outlining concerns and a request for a design review.

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