Commission votes that 64 Allandale project falls under wetlands act

The Boston Conservation Commission during a Nov. 18 meeting voted that the 64 Allandale Street project falls under the state Wetlands Protection Act, according to Charlotte Moffat, executive secretary of the Boston Conservation Commission.

That doesn’t mean the project can’t be built at the site, but the developer, Jacqueline Nunez, would need to jump more environmental review hurdles for it to happen. The developer is now seeking a ruling from the state Department of Environment, according to a spokesperson.

The Gazette was first alerted to the commission’s ruling by Wilfred Holton, a member of the informal Friends of Allandale Woods group who lives at Springhouse Senior Living, which abuts the 64 Allandale property. He said he brought the issue to the commission in September.

Holton said that the Friends of Allandale Woods group has been gathering for tours of the woods and for meetings to discuss the project. He said he found it “disconcerting” that Nunez has not responded to offers of negotiations or reconsiderations over the project.

“She seems pretty well determined to do what she wants to do,” said Holton.

Susan Elsbree, spokesperson for Nunez, in an email reiterated the project’s environmental benefits and sustainability, and said that the developer had two surveys conducted that showed that neither wetlands nor a wetlands buffer zone are on the property.

“The only disagreement concerns whether a small corner of the 64 Allandale site is within the 100-foot buffer zone from a wetlands area,” she said. “We disagree that any portion of the site is within the wetland buffer zone. But even if the opposing report is correct, the project will not touch wetlands, will have no adverse effect on wetlands or the parkland, and the project will still proceed forward as it is currently designed.”

She said that the development team is seeking a ruling from the state Department of Environmental Protection and is “confident they will confirm the wetlands boundary line that our expert consultants determined in the field.”

The property at 64 Allandale St. is on the border of West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. It is part of the West Roxbury Neighborhood District, as a matter of zoning. Nunez, a Dorchester-based developer, filed a project notification form (PNF) during the summer with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for a $20 million, 20-unit development at 64 Allandale St.

The proposal calls for building 16 new townhouses and creating four units at an existing house already on the property. The townhouses would be built in five different clusters, snaking down towards Allandale Woods and replacing a verdant landscape. The townhouses would range from three-and-a-half to four-and-a-half stories. The project would have 47 parking spaces, including seven spots for guests. The project would need several variances, such as for building height, floor area ratio, and setbacks.

“The project aims to be a national model for sustainability by achieving multiple ambitious goals: net-zero energy usage, LEED Platinum design and fortified home construction ensuring maximum climate change resilience,” states the PNF.

The project would abut Allandale Woods, which is an “urban wild” of about 100 acres of City- and private-owned land in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury. The woods is roughly formed by Allandale and Centre streets, the VFW Parkway and the Hackensack Road.

The BRA has asked the developer for the 64 Allandale St. project to consider a conservation restriction that would create a buffer zone between the Allandale Woods and the development.

A conservation restriction was one of several recommended revisions the Boston Parks and Recreation Department (BPRD) suggested in a letter to the BRA about the project.

A community meeting for the project was held Oct. 6 with the majority of attendees speaking out against the proposal. Repeated objections were made over the density of the project, traffic concerns despite the development team’s assurance that the impact would be minimal, and the affect it would have on Allandale Woods, such as townhouses towering over a historic springhouse and the development possibly damaging wetlands.

People also questioned what the cost of the units would be, while pointing out that the project is expected to cost $20 million, which would mean the average unit would have to cost more than a million for the developer to make a profit. The developer has not revealed unit pricing or the affordability component of the project yet.

Several attendees spoke in favor of the project, some of who said they are friends with Nunez or live in homes built by her. They commented on how well she works with the community and the detail and benefits of the 64 Allandale St. project, including it being energy efficient, bringing much needed housing to the city, and being aesthetically pleasing.

 

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