Categories: News

ZBA approves new 72 Hyde Park Ave. plans also saving tree 

By Michael Coughlin Jr. 

In what looks to be a happy ending for the community, the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) approved new plans for a project at 72 Hyde Park Avenue that save a nearly century-old oak tree from being taken down at the property. 

Attorney Mike Ross of Prince Lobel, legal counsel for the project, which would bring six units to the property, outlined some background on the proposal. 

Ross indicated that the project was previously approved by the ZBA in 2022. However, Ross said, “The applicant [Vladimir Sirotin], in preparing for construction — the applicant ran into an issue with a large tree in the back of the building… where it appeared impossible to save the tree.” 

He continued, stating that Sirotin agreed to revise the project with entities such as the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), the Mayor’s office, and others. 

The Gazette covered this situation in depth in the last edition. For more information, visit https://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2024/04/26/72-hyde-park-avenue-oak-tree-looks-set-to-be-saved/. 

“Essentially, what the applicant wound up doing is taking the rear portion of the building and taking that portion and putting it on the top of the building,” said Ross. 

As the presentation progressed, Ross outlined slides that showed differences in the project from the new plans to those approved in 2022. 

For example, he explained that the new rear setback for the project is 39.9 feet, whereas the 2022 proposal had a setback of 28.3 feet. 

Ross noted that all of the units are three-bedroom, two-bath units and that units five and six have been converted to duplexes as part of the new proposal. 

After outlining the zoning relief needed for the project, the floor was opened for questions from the board. 

ZBA Member Hansy Better Barraza asked about a ramp that will be included in the proposal and what unit it would serve. Ross indicated that the ramp would be used to create access to unit two but could theoretically create access to unit one as well. 

Following questions from the board, Conor Newman from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services provided testimony. 

Newman indicated that the mayor’s office would defer to the judgment of the ZBA. “Previously, the applicant received support from the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council in August of 2022. In 2023, concerns about the preservation of a mature tree on the property emerged,” said Newman. 

“The applicant has worked with the BPDA to alter designs to save the tree for the past few months. After a month of design review, the applicant submitted plans that preserve the tree and maintain the unit count. The BPDA is now comfortable with the design as it maintains accessibility and preserves the tree,” he added.  

Jordan Frias from City Councilor Ben Weber’s office also provided testimony. Frias indicated that Weber’s office is under the impression that someone has been hired to oversee the preservation of the tree and has gotten assurances that the tree’s health is a priority. 

“Because of this consideration, we’re in full support of this proposal, and the councilor wants to go on record in support,” said Frias. 

In addition to the testimony from city officials, a few residents expressed their thoughts. 

Caterina Scaramelli, a resident who has been heavily involved in the movement to preserve the tree, said, “I’m really happy with the new project. It’s great that we get to keep the tree and the housing.”

She also asked for the name of the arborist who will be keeping tabs on the tree. Ross provided the name of the arborist in the chat — Carl Taylor. 

Another resident, Faith Girdler, supported the new plans, saying, “I am really happy that we are going to preserve the tree because we need it.” She also spoke about the benefits of trees, such as their cooling effects. 

It should also be noted that no attendees spoke in opposition to the project. 

Better Barraza then motioned to approve the plans with a proviso. The proviso, in part, was “that the plans be reviewed by BPDA to ensure that tree roots are protected from all site excavation,” and the motion was unanimously approved. 

Gazette Staff:
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