The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) met virtually on October 27, where they heard updates from the committees.
Public Service Committee chair Michael Reiskind reported that the committee had discussed efforts between the Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association (LANA) and the Roslindale Wetlands Task Force to get the city to purchase 104-108 Walter Street and add it to the protected wetland area as well as build affordable homes on the parcel.
Louise Johnson said that “LANA has been very active” about this since the parcel became available. She said that there is currently a house on one of the properties, which the group wants to use to create up to four affordable housing units for home ownerships.
She said that the city is “interested” in this proposal, and that it would be a ”nice thing to help them in their efforts by writing them a letter of support.”
There were mixed reviews from council members on sending the letter.
“I think it’s a little optimistic to think the City would buy this, especially at market rate,” JPNC member Max Glikman said. He added that “I think it’s a little outside our jurisdiction.”
Reiskind said that the JPNC has worked with LANA on the design on the new Arnold Arboretum research building, as well as various other issues regarding the Arboretum “on both sides of the border. But he said “this one is a little further out and not quite in the same category, but close.”
Ultimately, the JPNC did not vote on whether or not to send a letter of support for this matter.
“There were too many questions yet to be answered that it seemed premature to have a vote,” JPNC Chair Kevin Rainsford told the Gazette.
The matter will be discussed again at the November 10 meeting of the Public Service Committee
Housing and Development Committee Chair Carolyn Royce reported on the committee’s discussion of Phase One of the proposed Mildred Hailey redevelopment. The JPNC voted to submit a letter to the BPDA in support of the project.
There were eight matters to be voted on from the Zoning Committee. The following projects were approved by the JPNC:
1.) A proposal for Cappy’s Pizza at 304 Centre St. to get rid of the proviso from the previous owner and change it to a new owner’s name was approved with the standard proviso that the approval is limited to this business owner only.
2.) A proposal at 83 Wyman Street #2 to renovate the attic to include an office and a family room was approved. The family who lives there needs the extra space to accommodate working from home, and no exterior changes to the building will be made, according to Chair David Baron.
3.) A proposal at 7 Arborview Road to build a two-story, 268 square foot addition in the rear yard with a landscape terrace and a 62 square foot addition in the front yard to create a vestibule was approved with the proviso that the applicant has to store landscaping equipment on the side of the property, as an abutter was concerned about damage to their property.
4.) A proposal at 36 Neillian Crescent to knock the existing one story structure off of its foundation and build a 2.5 story addition was approved. The project came before the Jamaica Hills Association with multiple proposals, and they came to an agreement about which one would be best, Baron said.
5.) A proposal at 66 Pershing Road to create a finished living area in the basement and patio work was also approved. The proposal originally included the demolition of the existing garage and the construction of a new attached garage with a mudroom, as well as extending the existing dormers on the third floor to create more living space, but the homeowner has decided to table those projects for now because of a disagreement with an abutter about the current proposal.
The Jamaica Pond Association voted not to oppose the basement and patio work, and the JPNC did the same.
6.) A proposal at 32 and 32R Perkins street to convert the existing three family house to a two family house, as well as create a second kitchen in the basement for the first unit and build an addition for a rear deck and stair was approved, but the second kitchen was not. The proposal also included the demolition of the existing carriage house and build a new single family home.
“The owner of that project is now going forward on a different plan to turn the existing three family house that’s at the front of the property to a two family dwelling and building a single family house in back,” Baron said. “When the developer was pressed on it, they were sort of fuzzy about the purpose of the second kitchen.”
Baron also called the proposed units “enormous, luxury units.”
The project that was the most controversial and ended up not being approved by the JPNC was one at 12 and 29 Rock Hill Road to combine three lots into one and create a new four story building with 12 residential units at 32 off-street parking spaces.
Baron said this “proposal has been around a while,” and at the end of 2018 a proposal from the owner of the property, Matthew Hayes of JP Auto Body, for 14 units and 26 parking spaces, was heard. The ZBA has since denied that proposal without prejudice, and many neighbors on nearby Cranston Street have concerns about the proposal as well.
The latest proposal of 12 units and 32 parking spaces—20 of which would be in the new building and 12 in an adjacent building—has both “opponents and supporters,” Baron said, which “came down largely to parking and traffic and also design to accommodate parking.” Two of the units are proposed to be affordable.
The recommendation of the committee was to “strongly approve,” but residents and the JPNC had mixed feelings about the proposal.
JPNC Chair Kevin Rainsford said that “if this project was in any other neighborhood,” then the “meeting would have been held with a neighborhood association. Unfortunately in Hyde Square there isn’t a neighborhood association so that meeting never happened. We get pushed into the ones being responsible for being the voice of the community.”
Others said that the housing, especially affordable housing, is needed, and that the project should be approved.
The JPNC ultimately could not come up with an approvable motion in favor of this project, so they did not vote in support. They said that they “urge” the developer to meet again with the neighborhood to come up with a proposal that would work for the most people.