On Jamaica St. Project

Dear Editor:

On March 26, the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve new construction at 79 Jamaica Street in Jamaica Plain. The approval was given despite:

— ten violations of zoning codes in the design

— the objection of residents on both Jamaica Street and St. Rose Street (the project’s backyard) to the size of the building

–the large number of neighbors in attendance to present their objections at many and all related meetings including submitting maps, charts, photos as well as bringing additional letters in opposition from those who were unable to attend

–the City Counselors who opposed the building’s size

–the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council’s unanimous denial

We would welcome new construction on the site. We are opposed to this project that, in relation to plot size, is almost triple the average on Jamaica Street. The proposed structure is huge, the plot is relatively the smallest.

The average Floor to Ratio (FAR) on our street is .54

The allowable FAR for our neighborhood is .6

The FAR for a lot the same size is 1.0

The FAR for the approved building is 1.4

The original FAR requested was 1.54 but was reduced to 1.4 merely by leaving the attic unfinished in the plan. The overall size of the building was not changed.

The Zoning Board, after hearing from the developer’s lawyer and architect, gave only a few minutes for public comments. A representative of the Mayor’s office, who had not attended any other related meeting, supported the project. Before approving the project unanimously, the Zoning Board  demanded  the removal of two offstreet parking spaces.

Permitting multiple zoning violations to allow luxury housing out of scale and character for the neighborhood only exacerbates the gentrification displacing long term residents. We did what we could to preserve the quality of our neighborhood. What more could we have done? We are left with several other difficult questions:

–is Mayor Walsh truly committed to the vibrancy and diversity of our  neighborhoods?

–did we waste our time even engaging in the hearing process with the Neighborhood Council

–is the Neighborhood Council so irrelevant to the Zoning Board that their unanimous decision to deny this proposal was so easily dismissed and replaced with an even worse proposal?

As of March 31, the following neighbors on Jamaica Street and St. Rose Street have signed this letter:

Susan K. Jacoby                                              Henry Dubin                     Sarah Perreault

Janet Nicholas                                                Hallie Smizik Dubin       

 John Crowley

Esther Leidolf                                                  Janet Crowley                

John Carroll

Ann Neiderkorn                                              Anne Crane                     Henry Cook

Stephanie Yesner                                           Phyllis Robinson              Patrick Barron

Maura  Russell                                                Robert Seifert                 Manuela Mariani

Tita Wernimont                                              Eliza Parad

Maria Vitagliano                                             Tom Rust

Janet Van Zandt                                              Betsey Brooks

Luis Sturla                                                        Brian Karlsson-Barnes

Don Eunson                                                     Bill Thompson

Douglas Evans                                                 Natalie Pangaro

Laura George                                                   Hope Wallace Hill

Chuck George                                                  Misha Hill

Erin George                                                      Catherine Carothers

Koji Nakashima                                                Peter Cassidy

Michele Sinunu                                                Claudia Huettner

Nick Menzies                                                    Debra Acquavella

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