The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met virtually on December 14, where they had a discussion about the SNA process and how the group will move forward when it comes to development projects.
SNA Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy explained the current SNA process for development projects in the neighborhood, which includes getting in touch with project proponents, hearing the proposal, having it move to subcommittee, then a full vote by the SNA to either oppose or not oppose. The project then goes to the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee, then the full JPNC, and then to the Zoning Board of Appeal if zoning variances are needed.
“97-99 Williams has come under sort of a spotlight,” McCurdy said of a project that sparked a lengthy process discussion at a recent JPNC Zoning Committee meeting. McCurdy said that an abutters meeting was held, after which the City requested a meeting with the SNA Steering Committee, along with the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, the chair of the JPNC Zoning Committee, and the chair of the SNA subcommittee on this project. The project went before the JPNC Zoning Board on December 2, even though the SNA said the project was still in subcommittee, McCurdy said, and there were still outlying concerns that need to be addressed regarding the requested variances.
“What came out of that,” McCurdy said, is “that the city is looking for a process that is more expedited than what we currently have.” He said that the city would like to see a vote from neighborhood organizations three months after an official abutter’s meeting.
“That’s a more condensed timeline than we normally have,” he said. He continued, “what we’re proposing as a Steering Committee is to look at our subcommittee guidance and to update that.”
Steering Committee member Paige Sparks said that some of the Steering Committee’s goals include making it “clearer to neighbors what being on a subcommittee means,” as well as “clear knowledge” of the public process when it comes to development projects.
She said the goal is to “continue to maintain and strength our reputation as a group” as one that helps create better projects and developments for the Stonybrook neighborhood. Sparks said that next steps involve meeting with some “external groups” and others, and a vote on the new structure is expected in January.
Sparks said that the SNA will aim to meet the City’s three month deadline, but are hoping from some flexibility depending on the project if the SNA also shows some flexibility.
The SNA also provided an update on the BMS Paper project. SNA member Jennifer Uhrhane explained that owner Bob Harrington has proposed to expand his restaurant supply business at 3390 Washington St. as well as add a grocery store, a restaurant, and about 160 units of housing.
She said the SNA subcommittee for this project has gone “back and forth” with the developer by providing feedback and asking questions.
Uhrhane said that the project proponents filed a Project Notification Form with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on November 20, “but didn’t tell us there was updated information.” The comment period is set to end on January 3, but Uhrhane said she hopes it will be extended, as there has yet to be a BPDA public meeting for this project.
She said there are “generally still some concerns about the bulk of the building” from the subcommittee. She called the design “very awkward,” and said it has a “kind of hulking presence,” and suggested that “a lot of it could be solved by a different design” as well as putting things like parking underground.
The SNA subcommittee had a meeting on December 17 to discuss the latest plans and the Project Notification form, Uhrhane said.