JPA Discusses Zoning Issues; Swimming in Jamaica Pond

The Jamaica Pond Association met virtually on June 7, where members discussed two zoning matters as well as a petition to allow swimming in Jamaica Pond.

Zoning

The first zoning matter was at 757 Centre St. for a renovation to the existing Dunkin’ location, including the change in zoning from “restaurant” to “restaurant with takeout,” as well as the installation of a walk-up pickup window and the removal of restrooms for customer use.

Attorney David Krumsiek presented the proposal on behalf of the owner, Chris DaCosta, who is part of the family who has owned the location for years.

Krumsiek explained that this store was eligible for a renovation last year, as it had gotten outdated. After several issues with the constriction permits, the pandemic hit and it was decided that shifting to a takeout only option would be beneficial to the store, which has previously offered tables and chairs for patrons to sit and enjoy their food and drink.

The restaurant is now seeking a conditional use permit to operate as a restaurant with takeout, and adding the takeout window also triggered a zoning violation, Krumsiek added.

DaCosta added that there will be no changes made to the building footprint, and the window will be strictly for walk-up only—no drive through will be allowed. Additionally, the window is just for picking up a mobile order that has been placed ahead of time; customers are not allowed to place orders at this window,

All of the parking will be kept, and the plans to have the store be takeout only will be permanent.

“The app is the future,” DaCosta said. “It’s getting people in and out.”

JPA member Franklyn Salimbene said “I can’t help but think the loss of seating inside the establishment is a bit of a loss to the community,” as he said he knows some folks who liked to sit inside the store and enjoy their morning cup of coffee.

Alexander Wood, a resident who lives right near the store, said he is supportive of this proposal but brought up a complaint about the new LED lights that illuminate the store. He said that they are shining into his and his neighbors’ apartments.

He said he has been trying to get in touch with DaCosta or his father-in-law for the past year regarding this issue, but has been unsuccessful.

He said that the LED lights “emit harsh light on Centre St.,” adding that is is a “really obnoxious bright light.” He suggested that either the light be turned off at an appropriate time, or a light guard be installed so that the neighbors don’t have to see it.

DaCosta said that “at the very least,” the light can be shut off once the store closes. He said that before the pandemic, it used to close at 10pm, but it has now been closing around 7pm .

He added that the LED lights are new for them as well, and he will look into a solution.

“I don’t want to be a bad neighbor for you guys,” he said.

“Light pollution is becoming more of an issue throughout the city and the country,” said JPA member Michael Reiskind, adding that some LED lights can be dimmed.

Wood seemed satisfied with DaCosta’s willingness to work with the neighbors on this issue, but the JPA decided they wanted to postpone a vote on the actual proposal until this issue is resolved.

“We will pick this up at the meeting in July,” Zoning Chair Kevin Moloney said, where the JPA expects to hear a solution that pleases both parties.

The other zoning matter was at 80 Prince St. where a couple proposed to renovate their basement to create more living space for their family, including an office space, a TV area, a living room area, and a workout area.

Henry Spitzer and his wife Marley were at the meeting to talk about the proposal and answer any questions from the board.

Spitzer said that no exterior changes will be made to the basement, but there is a variance needed for Floor Area Ratio. The existing bathroom in the basement will be kept as a half bath, but the finishes will be upgraded.

This proposal was not controversial, and there were no issues or concerns from the JPA as this family is just looking to increase their living space.

The JPA voted to not oppose the proposal.

Zoning Information for JPA Website

The JPA also discussed draft documents for an FAQ and a flow chart that would be available on the JPA website to help applicants for zoning matters better understand the city process. There will be further discussion on this matter and edits made to both documents before they are made accessible to the public.

Swimming In

JAMAICA POND The JPA also discussed a petition at swimjp.org that calls for the allowance of swimming in Jamaica Pond. The website also provides articles about swimming in the pond, as well as photos of the pond and water quality information. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere in the near future,” JPA Chair Rosemary Jones said of the idea. The JPA was mixed on the petition, with some members adamantly against the idea, and others felt it should be a possibility. JPA member Kevin Moloney said he grew up near the pond and said that “only rogue swimmers swam in the pond,” despite the fact that many articles outlined the fact that the pond had been regularly used for recreational swimming. “This would be a terrible thing to happen.,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a particularly good idea,” JPA member Michael Frank said. “I also don’t think it’s within the realm of possibility,” he added, saying that he does not believe the City would want to be held liable for swimming in the pond.  Michael Reiskind said that this issue had also come up in 2008, and the JPA was in opposition to it then. He also said that Massachusetts “has a statute for Great Ponds” for ponds that are 10 acres or larger. Reiskind said that Jamaica Pond is Boston’s only Great Pond, and it might have some effect on how the pond can be used, but he had not confirmed that. The JPA might revisit this issue if it proceeds further.

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