WBZ-TV, the local CBS affiliate, broadcast a video segment yesterday about the activism of Dorchester residents and rapid changes affecting Boston’s largest neighborhood. CSHCA Vice President Eileen Boyle briefly appears in the broadcast.
“The development team offered two stark choices… saying the neighbors could get on board with a well-designed set of 17 condominium units or be left with a blocky set of nine rental units with above-ground parking. At a well-attended meeting hosted by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), neighbors expressed their discontent with the scope of the development and potential impacts on traffic and safety in the area…”
The proposed new condominium building would replace the existing Scally & Trayers Funeral Home at 54 Pleasant Street. Also:
“Attendees asked for alternatives to the underground parking in trade for a smaller unit count. Eileen Boyle of the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association proposed nine units, but over a floor of above-ground parking to maintain the building’s shape… Sonia Kaszuba, who lives on Pearl Street, started a neighborhood petition to get the units reduced. In conversations with abutters, some were vehemently opposed to anything above six units, with others okay with a dozen. They split the difference and have been asking for nine.”
“[BPDA project manager John] Campbell dismissed the idea of the petition, which had gathered 85 signatories by Aug. 1. “Petitions don’t count for anything at all,” he said, asking instead that people submit comments to him via website, email, or mail. A public comment period on the proposal is open until Aug. 11…”
Residents and the BPDA clashed about zoning because the proposed development:
“… has a floor area ratio of 1.53, which [Pearl Street resident Mel] Parker pointed out is more than three times the ratio allowed by zoning… The higher the ratio, the more dense the development… BPDA project manager John Campbell, who was moderating the meeting, quickly reacted to Parker’s statements. “Do you realize how outdated that is?” he asked. “You’re talking about a 50-year-old zoning code… the zoning code is being changed neighborhood by neighborhood, and that’s what the Zoning Board of Appeals is for…”
Reportedly, several residents were shocked by that response, since current zoning law is the law.
Interested residents can view preliminary project documents and submit comments at the BPDA site, and join the 54 Pleasant Street Abutters group on Facebook.