A private investor group, represented by The Wonder Group LLC, purchased the single family home and two acre property at 64 Allandale St. adjacent to Allandale Woods. The developer can, by right, build as many as 5 units on the property. Yet, the developer instead seeks permission to build 18 units. This threatens the woods. We oppose the city granting variances to build more than what is allowed by right.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority has approved this development proposal. The proposal then moved to the Zoning Board of Appeal, which granted the requested variances on December 13, 2016. A coalition of community groups intends to file a lawsuit challenging the zoning variances.
Five issues related to this project that impact all Bostonians:
This puts the most ecologically sensitive public land in Boston at risk
The Boston Parks and Recreation Department has formally stated that Allandale Woods is the “most ecologically significant natural area” in the city and that the proposed development is adjacent to one of the most sensitive sites in the woods, which features wet meadows, springs, and streams that flow into a rare vernal pool. The hydrology and vegetation of the proposed development are critical to the park’s habitat of numerous mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. The proposed development is also adjacent to lands designated by the city archeologist as areas of high importance for both native and historic cultural deposits. Increasing the density here to 20 units puts an irreplaceable public asset at risk and deteriorates the quality of this rare public resource. Boston Parks and the Recreation recommended at least a 100 foot buffer between the woods and the project site but the developer refuses to cooperate.
Variances should be granted on the basis of hardship
The developer can, by right, increase the density to ten units. There is no apparent justification for hardship. If the most environmentally sensitive land in the city can be put at risk, then no site is safe and zoning becomes meaningless.
Doesn’t fit the Mayor’s 2030 Housing Plan or City Climate Action Plan
The city needs more housing and increased density furthers this goal and limits sprawl. Yet, the Mayor’s housing goals specify building near public transportation hubs and urban main streets. This site is near none of those assets and requires 47 parking spaces. The City Climate Action Plan, section 4.1, states that the City mandate is to “Protect and expand green spaces and the urban forest in all neighborhoods.” This plan is not in keeping with city housing strategy and runs counter to a city commitment to upgrade, not diminish, public open spaces. Not the kind of housing we need The 64 Allandale site was purchased for 2.2 million dollars and the developer has publicly stated an intention to spend 20 million dollars to build 20 units. This would be well-above-market luxury housing. This is not the kind of increased middle class access to housing emphasized in the Mayor’s housing plan. Boston leads the nation in social inequality. Providing variances to build extra housing for millionaires while a public asset is diminished is inappropriate.
Developer is not a good neighbor or a good environmentalist
Every other institutional-scale project built along the woods has put nearly half of their land into conservation easement, to protect and enlarge the woods (Allandale Condos 39%, Sophia Snow Place, 51%, Springhouse, 46%). This developer proposes to defy this practice and instead build so densely that there is no place for snow removal. It would permanently need to be trucked off-site even though the project is being touted for its supposed environmental commitments. The developer sued the city to try to overturn an unfavorable wetlands ruling only to waste taxpayer dollars and have the State uphold the city wetlands ruling. The developer continues to spend heavily on lawyers and consultants to sway the public on the basis of the project’s eco-friendly aims but these aims are voluntary. Nothing obligates the developer to abide by them. The developer wants to build next to the woods to make the project more attractive to would-be buyers but is willing to diminish the quality of the woods and undermine City Climate Action Plan to maximize financial gain.
Your voice is essential to preserving this rare and fragile public asset and to stand up for sensible development in Boston. Please join us!