JPNC Zoning Committee discusses two residential matters

The Zoning Committee of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council met virtually on Feb. 16 where it discussed two matters: a new proposal at 12 Everett St. to built a three-unit residential building, and to change the occupancy from a two family to a three family at 3243 Washington St.


       Architect Mark Sangiolo presented the latest iteration of the proposal at 12 Everett St. to construct a three-unit residential building. He said that with previous designs, neighbors had concerns with how the building looked.

       He said the design has now “shifted gears to a more Queen Anne-style building,” and will feature an ADA compliant route to the units. There will be a deck on the top and a LULA lift. Each of the three units will feature three bedrooms.

       Landscape architect Susan Sangiolo explained the landscape plan as well as the proposed driveway.

       “Fire access required that we do a pad here in the front,” she said, which will be 25 feet wide and will “transition right into the ADA compliant walkway to the front entry of 12 Everett.”

       For the proposed plant materials, she said there will be “mostly native plant materials that will require less maintenance; less water.”

       Committee chair Dave Baron said he had concerns about how wide the proposed driveway is, and committee member Kendra Halliwell said she shares Baron’s concerns, though she does “understand where the fire department is coming from.” She suggested that it might be “visually narrowed” using plantings.

       After hearing from a few more residents, the committee voted to approve the proposal “subject to what’s agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding.”


       Attorney Marc LaCasse presented the proposal to change the occupancy of the existing two family to a three family (originally a four family was proposed) as well as add rear decks and extend the living area into the basement to create a duplex unit.

       LaCasse said that after meeting with the Egleston Square Neighborhood Association (ESNA) twice on this matter, he believes their concerns have been addressed with this revised proposal.

       He said that no changes will be made to the envelope of the building, and there is no parking existing or proposed.

       The proposal is for “three Philadelphia-style duplex units,” LaCasse said. Part of Unit 1 will occupy the basement, but the back will have a walkout option. These will be condo units for home ownership.

       Alex Ponte-Capellan of Councilor Kendra Lara’s office talked about an abutting project that involved the same owner that he said would have led to the displacement of residents if it had been allowed to move forward.

       “It seems like this is their business model. They’re flippers,” he said. “Councilor Lara as chair of the housing committee wants to advance things that keep folks in their homes. We’re here today to oppose any variances to this corporation based on their track record.” He also said that the Councilor’s office is “offering to negotiate an anti-displacement policy” for projects moving forward.

       “This property was acquired vacant from an estate,” LaCasse said. “You can’t displace anybody when the building is acquired vacant.” He added that each side was represented by an attorney for the project Ponte-Capellan spoke of.

       Dan Botwinik said that “the property that Alex is describing is not relevant to this property. Given that my partner and I were involved in the property next door he wants to somehow blacklist us from doing developments in this area.”

       Committee member Marie Turley said that “I do appreciate that it’s a lot better than it was before,” but she was still opposed to the project.

       Several members of the committee did not think that this meeting was an appropriate forum to bring up what Ponte-Capellan did. “There are plenty of other forums for that,” said committee member Kevin Leary. “Our time is precious.”

       Rose Gold said that ESNA does support the variances for this project, and suggested that the developer reach out to Councilor Lara’s office regarding an anti-displacement policy/

       “We respect Alex’s call for an anti-displacement policy and understand it,” LaCasse said.

       “Displacement is really important to me,” committee member Peg Preble said. However, she said that because it was a vacant building, “I don’t think I can vote against it on zoning even though there’s a piece of me that would like to.”

       Ponte-Capellan said “the reason I bring it up here is because I’ve always brought it up here. You guys have stood with us…”

       Baron said that he believes it is “fair to hold them accountable for things they’ve done.”

       The committee voted six to one with three people abstaining to approve the request “subject to the ESNA letter.”


       JP resident Omer Hecht expressed his interest in joining the Zoning Committee. Hecht was once on the full JPNC, but resigned.

       Committee member Peg Preble spoke about “inflammatory” letters Hecht had written in the past about the committee, and it was also pointed out that Hecht has a zoning project that is set to come before the committee shortly.

       Hecht said his “opinions have changed” since he wrote the letters.

       Marie Turley said she has “concerns about the appearance of the timing,” and said she doesn’t “think it’s appropriate to be coming on the committee when you have a matter before us.”

       Hecht said that he apologizes and that “they were not meant to personally call out someone because of their personal behavior or affiliation. It was directed specifically at the council and its activities and actions.”

            Some members said they would still vote for him, but ultimately more people voted against having him on the committee at this time.

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