May 2017 FOAW Coalition Update

This post provides an update on the pending 64 Allandale lawsuit and news of events and issues related to Allandale Woods and the Allandale area, as mailed to the Allandale Coalition mailing list.  For more information contact the Coalition directly: thefoawcoalition@gmail.com

Highlights:
- September 7, 2017 hearing date now set for City of Boston Motion to Dismiss
- Residents motion to consolidate residents' and Springhouse cases pending; City does not object; 
Springhouse has yet to respond .
Other Issues: 
- Natural resource analysis for Allandale area property submitted to Boston Conservation Commission via "Request for Determination of Applicability"
- 90 Allandale and 1225 Centre future development remains pending


Details:

1. 64 Allandale
A hearing on the City of Boston Motion to Dismiss residents' lawsuit has been set for Thursday, September 7, 2017.  Link to the Notice : http://bit.ly/2qGFjfy

City argues that residents lack standing to bring the case and that approvals of the 18-unit luxury housing development do not constitute spot zoning. Links to the City's Motion and residents' response are provided below. This is not a hearing on the underlying issues of City project approval, but only on the City's Motion to Dismiss.

Links to all case materials thus far:

Residents initial complaint : http://bit.ly/2ofbIXR
Springhouse initial complaint : http://bit.ly/2nMLxvY
City's Motion to Dismiss : http://bit.ly/2oeRzku
Developer Answer to complaint: http://bit.ly/2pUIhA4
Residents Reply Memorandum: http://bit.ly/2qhd3Q4
Residents Motion to Consolidate (as prepared): http://bit.ly/2rbrBB9
Residents Memorandum in Support of Motion to Consolidate (as prepared) : http://bit.ly/2rabNh4
Court Notice of Hearing: http://bit.ly/2qGFjfy

2. Lawsuit Fundraising
Thanks to all who have contributed thus far and to Allandale Farm for its support and Kelleher's Bar and Grille for hosting our kickoff event. Donations are still welcome during the interim period; checks may be made out to "The FOAW Coalition"; all are encouraged to visit the Farm and Kelleher's throughout the summer.

FOAW Coalition
100B Allandale Street
Jamaica Plain MA 02130

Comments or questions on the effort are welcome; updates will be provided as events proceed.  

3. Related Allandale Developments

90 Allandale
90 Allandale, a two acre site adjacent to 64 and Allandale conservation land, is being marketed by a private offering. This site will likely be evaluated by investors as a potential luxury housing development site with density beyond that allowed by the existing community plan. The listing agent asked that offers be submitted by April 27, 2017. 

As of Friday May 19 there is no indication that acceptable offers have been submitted. While prevailing opinion is that purchase for development is unlikely while the 64 Allandale case remains unresolved, possibility remains that a speculative developer might move forward with the property.

Investigation of Allandale Natural Resources

Following up examination of natural resources begun during the 64 Allandale process, the City's wetland consultant investigated possible water flow connections at City conservation land and the bordering residential property.
The investigation included a "dye test" whereby benign green coloring was introduced at an up-gradient location and downstream observation points monitored to determine whether connections exist as evidenced by appearance of the dye.

Link to full package of material submitted to Conservation Commission as a "Request for Determination of Applicability" : http://bit.ly/2qDjKhU
Reply of land planning firm retained by 90 Allandale : http://bit.ly/2rALkdH

The Conservation Commission hearing on the "Request for Determination" will be in June; hearing date not yet confirmed.


1225 Centre Street.

15+ Variances Sought for 8 Units; No Abutter Meeting Yet Scheduled by Mayor Walsh's Office 

1225 is the former gas station site between Sophia Snow and the Spaulding building. Now vacant, this small parcel is an especially significant property for Allandale Woods as it includes wetlands and borders a vernal pool. 

A proposal for 8 housing units has been filed with the City. The proposal requires multiple zoning variances and Development Authority, Conservation Commission and Parks Department approvals.  We calculate that no more than 1 unit may be built on the property under the existing "Conservation Protection District" guidelines. We will provide updates as the City process moves forward.
 

4. Events. Other Updates. 

While many are familiar with the history of properties along Allandale, it's useful to recall that present-day Allandale Condominiums and Springhouse Senior Living were successfully developed only after lengthy and at times contentious negotiation and the rejection of initial proposals. 
The basic principles that guided past development and preservation decisions along Allandale remain true today.
Those involved held firm to baseline requirements - site-appropriate design, landscaped buffer areas and year-round screening, sensible, safe entry/exits and substantial designations for public conservation land - which have endured over time, retaining Allandale's unique qualities while providing for reasonable growth and private use of property.
Importantly, these successful developments were carried out via comprehensive and binding planning agreements rather than the spot-zoning and the "trust me" approach we have seen with 64.
Finally, emerging awareness of the value of walkable / bikeable communities, of directing density closer to transit and at blighted or underused sites, furthering affordable / workforce housing while protecting biodiversity and natural resources strengthen the rationale for appropriate development near and along Allandale and elsewhere.    

 

Allandale Woods Coalition Sues City over 64 Allandale

Allandale Woods Coalition Sues City for Approving More Than

50 Variances To Build Million Dollar Condos Next to Boston Park

 

BOSTON (March 16, 2017) A broad coalition of neighborhood residents and groups are suing the City of Boston to enforce its own zoning laws, in order to protect one of its most pristine parks. A group of abutters supported by the Friends of Allandale Woods Coalition has filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court to stop the building of 18 - million dollar plus condominiums on a two acre lot, which is zoned for single family. The picturesque parcel with a 19th Century farmhouse overlooks Allandale Woods, a Boston Parks forest on the West Roxbury/Jamaica Plain border. In December, the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) approved more than fifty variances that waived nearly every building guideline specifically established for the scenic neighborhood.

Despite the opposition of six Boston city councilors and all of the adjacent neighborhood associations and councils, the ZBA approved the building of forty-five foot tall, luxury townhouses in exceptional density overlooking a large section of this eighty-six acre woods. In contrast with the rural character of the neighborhood, all front yard requirements have either have been waived by the City or approvedfor use as one of more than forty parking spaces. The ZBA OK’edonce prohibited basement units and approved not having sidewalks for the development’s narrow access road. The lawsuit states that the developer, the Wonder Group, had submitted “not one scintilla of evidence” to meet the very specific requirements for hardship that must be met to grant even one variance, much less more than fifty, on such a sensitive and controversial site.  

The project claims of sustainability are greatly exaggerated as it is completely car dependent with more than two parking spaces allocated per unit, and the site is not near public transportation. The energy efficient design features of the structures are laudable, but rarely does a housing project come with such high external environmental costs and risks. Allandale Woods is the jewel of Boston Parks Urban Wilds program, which are properties managed for their sense of seclusion in the city. These towering townhouses will loom over and be seen throughout the eastern quarter of the woods effectively removing twenty acres from an urban wild’s primary purpose.

The proposed development is also immediately upslope of one of Boston last two vernal pool sites. These extremely sensitive wetlands are a major feature of Allandale Woods and had been previously described by Boston Parks as “ the most important ecologically significant site in the City of Boston.” The principal reason that there are only two vernal pool sites left in the City is they that are easily disturbed and destroyed. An abutter offered to pay for a hydrological study of the site as part of the permitting process, to which the developer declined.

The Wonder Group has promoted the project on its claims of being the first “net zero energy” development in Boston. However, the BPDA on its very own website lists a 14 unit project in Roxbury’s Highland Park neighborhood and others as the city’s first:  http://www.bostonplans.org/planning/planning-initiatives/e-green-building-program

There are also concerns about affordability and the lack of affordable housing. Since the developer has stated that there would be more than $20 million in capital spending, the prices for these luxury townhouses will be well in excess of $1,000,000 each. Nearly six months after having the project approved by the BRA board, the developer reduced the number of units from 20 to 18, which under the City’s complex affordable housing formula allowed the developer to reduce the number of on-site affordable units from three to one.

The case will be argued and decided on the technical points of zoning law, but this particular project has become a political flashpoint in the neighborhoods as to whether zoning has any relevance to Boston city officials. Polly Selkoe, a member of the 550 household Jamaica Hills Association said, “If the ZBA can completely ignore the designated zoning uses and density allowed in a neighborhood and also fails to protect environmentally sensitive conservation land, then what is the sense of having zoning in Boston.”

The ZBA’s Allandale Woods decision is the capstone case on a mountain of neighborhood discontent over what is widely perceived as a developer-driven process that exploits insider relationships. Projects that dramatically exceed zoning are completely “pre-baked” between the BPDA and the developers before there is any meaningful public input. Many citizens openly question the value of showing up to public hearings.

“For those Boston citizens who feel shut out of the City’s development process, we want the Allandale Woods lawsuit to be their case – a citizen-based effort to protect a public park. Hopefully in the long run with judicial correction, the City of Boston will prioritize thoughtful planning with meaningful public input as an important priority,” stated Tony LaCasse, vice-president of the Friends of Allandale Woods.

For more information about Allandale Woods: 1.  http://allandalewoods.org/  2. https://www.boston.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/urban-wilds-jamaica-plain

 

Neighbors Support Allandale Defense Fund

Neighbors filled Kelleher's function room to capacity Sunday, January 29 2016 to support the Allandale Defense Fund. A coalition of residents and local organizations are preparing to challenge in court the CIty's zoning approvals for 64 Allandale.

Attorneys costs for this effort can exceed $25,000, but we are determined to bring the 64 Allandale case before the Suffolk County Superior Court for independent review.

As Protecting of natural resources, furthering sustainable, affordable development and upholding neighborhood zoning are interconnected and important issues, the coalition must fundraise to cover attorney costs.

Going into the Sunday event, the coalition has already reach over 30% of our fundraising goal.

We will continue our broad-based, community-wide effort until the defense fund target is reached, mindful that all donations represent individual and household funds that could be alternatively saved or spent on many worthy causes,

This is an all-volunteer effort and all funds raised will be used only for the legal challenge.

Donations are not tax deductible and are separate from any donation to Friends of Allandale Woods.

Many modest individual donations accumulate and will allow us to move forward effectively with the legal challenge.

Future events are planned. Check back often. Sign Up for notices.

In the meantime, checks in any amount are gratefully accepted. Please make out to "FOAW Coalition" and mail to:

J. Lees, Treasurer, 100B Allandale Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Each and every contribution is valuable.

We thank you for your past and continuing support and participation.

COALITION TO CHALLENGE CITY ZONING APPROVALS

On December 13th 2016, Mayor Walsh’s Zoning Board of Appeal (BOA) approved an 18 unit luxury housing development at 64 Allandale Street on the Jamaica Plain/West Roxbury border. The site is designated for single family homes and directly borders the most ecologically sensitive part of Allandale Woods. Allandale Woods is a special place in Boston, containing one of the few natural ecosystems systems dating to the City’s pre-colonial periods. 

In approving the project, Mayor Walsh’s BOA excused over 50 zoning violations with, we believe, no legal justification.

During City review, a coalition of individuals and community groups - beginning with Friends of Allandale Woods, Allandale area neighbors and residents of Springhouse Senior Living Community - worked together to advance alternatives that would protect Allandale natural resources. 

We encouraged the Walsh administration to work within City rules and to focus its development efforts on affordable and workforce housing located closer to public transit, all within a respectful and legitimate community-based process. 

Private-car dependent housing results in a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions and is a significant contributor to harmful climate change. Increasing the inventory of luxury housing fails to address the priority need for affordable and workforce housing in Boston.

Following steps set forth by the City, residents participated in numerous public meetings over 18 months, gathered petitions, and sent many hundreds of letters to Mayor Walsh and his appointed City department heads at BRA/BPDA, Environmental and Parks Departments.

In this effort we were joined by area organizations ranging from Jamaica Hills Association and Longfellow Area Neighborhood Association to the Sierra Club, MassAudubon, Trustees of Reservations and the Arboretum Park Conservancy. Both Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury Neighborhood Councils supported residents and voted against the 18 unit luxury housing proposal.

District 6 Councilmember O’Malley and his at-large Boston City Council colleagues Flaherty, Presley, Essabi-George and Wu, as well as District 5 Member McCarthy, all voiced support of residents efforts at each step and before the Zoning Board.

We had hoped that the public process would result in a site-appropriate development plan, with a final resolution achieved by reasonable negotiation lead by Mayor Walsh. Unfortunately, Mayor Walsh ignored the community clear consensus, instead privileging a luxury housing developer over Springhouse seniors, hundreds of residents and the unanimous recommendation of all Allandale-area neighborhood associations. 

The only modification recommended by the Walsh Administration and adopted by the developer was a reduction in the number of affordable units required for the project (from 3 affordable units to 1 affordable unit). 

The developer did also relocate buildings away from the Allandale Woods border. However this was an involuntary re-configuration required to comply with Commonwealth of Massachusetts Wetlands Protection laws.

Believing that respecting communities, enforcing zoning rules and furthering sustainable development and affordable housing are interconnected, important issues, the Coalition must, regretfully, now challenge the City’s zoning approval in court.

Once Mayor Walsh’s Zoning Board issues its final ruling, we will prepare the necessary documents to place the 64 Allandale development before the Suffolk County Superior Court.

Please note: All donations to the "FOAW Coalition" Allandale Defense Fund are not tax deductible and are separate from donations to Friends of Allandale Woods.

http://www.bulletinnewspapers.com/29286/262840/a/friends-of-the-allandale-woods-looking-to-bring-suite-regarding-zba-approval

http://www.universalhub.com/2017/opponents-could-sue-try-block-subdivision-next

Allandale Update : Nov 7 Community Meeting

As you may know, the 64 Allandale developer has prepared a modified site plan, reducing the number of units from 20 to 18.  Details of the new site plan are now available a the BPDA project site.
A third community meeting to review the modifications has been scheduled on Monday November 7th from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Roche Community Center, 1716 Centre Street, West Roxbury.
Friends of Allandale Woods together with Allandale area neighbors and residents of Springhouse Senior Living Community prepared initial comments to BPDA in a recent letter, including a checklist of the unresolved issues for this project. As the letter details, the 2 unit reduction falls far short of the project modifications needed for development at 64 Allandale; major questions of natural resource protection, zoning compliance and sustainable development remain unresolved.
We encourage all who are able to email comments to the BPA. The public comment period for this revision ends November 14, 2016. Emails may be sent to brian.golden@boston.gov and christopher.tracy@boston.gov with the subject line “64 Allandale : Oppose BPDA Approval”. Please copy the Friends at friendsofallandalewoods@gmail.com 
The comment may be as basic as “We oppose BPDA Board Approval of the 64 Allandale development until all unresolved issues are satisfactorily addressed”.  BPDA anticipates bringing the revised agreement to its Board on November 17, 2016.

In other project updates:

  • The zoning hearing is now scheduled for Tuesday, December 13, 2016, after the developer requested a postponement in late September.
  • A recent JP Gazette article describes the parallel State of Massachusetts wetlands protection process in which residents are participating.
  • We are fully committed to participation in the City process and will take all necessary steps to see that the unresolved issues at 64 Allandale are adequately addressed.

Thank you for your the past and continued involvement, as wide community participation is an essential part of our shared efforts.

64 Allandale Zoning hearing postponed to December

As many have already learned, the 64 Allandale Street developer has requested the Zoning appeal hearing scheduled for Tuesday, September 27, 2016 be deferred. The new hearing date is Tuesday, December 13, 2016. If you haven’t had a chance to write to the ZBA yet, your concerns really matter; details are on our website.
While residents are prepared to move forward to the zoning board for final decision, we hope the developer will now use this extra time and work with neighbors to identify a plan all can support.
Leading up the hearing, the unified support for residents among our elected local leaders has been heartening. We are grateful to District Councilmember Matt O'Malley, his District 5 counterpart Tim McCarthy and Matt's At Large colleagues Ayanna Pressley, Michael Flaherty and Anissa Essabi-George - all of whom affirmed their intention to support residents at the Zoning Board. In addition, we also had the support of the local neighborhood organizations (WRNC, JPNC, LNA, WREGC) and conservation organizations (Trustees of the Reservations, Sierra Club, Mass Audubon.
Mayor Walsh's office has assisted by covening the most recent community meeting and bringing back to the Mayor an accurate description of the many serious, unresolved concerns surrounding the 64 Allandale project.  
In addition to the zoning issues, there is a parallel appeal now pending before the State Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). This appeal concerns how the Wetlands Protection Act should be applied at 64 Allandale. Residents continue to participate in MassDEP review. Our goal is to insure full protection of natural resources at Allandale Woods and on adjoining properties.  The position taken by the Boston Conservation Commission, requiring developer compliance with Wetlands Protection Act, likely also weighed into the developer's decision to postpone. 
As a result of this more than year-long process, the Friends of Allandale Woods has coalesced out of the looser network of neighbors, conservationists, and community members who enjoy the Woods and the neighborhood it anchors. We hope you have visited our website, allandalewoods.org
We held a wonderful family walk in the woods last spring and two popular tours last Fall. We have begun to plan a fall event as well. We will keep you posted of these events, including in the legal processes mentioned above, through this website.

Abutters meeting on 64 Allandale draws large crowd; on to Zoning Board Tuesday.

Thursday's abutters meeting at Springhouse

Thursday's abutters meeting at Springhouse

As expected, the formal "Abutters Meeting" to collect comments on the 64 Allandale development proposal drew a large crowd at Springhouse on Thursday night (9/22/2016).  There was strong opposition to the proposal, even though the developer tried to portray the proposal as a trickle down solution to Boston's affordable housing crisis.

The next milestone for this proposal is the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals meeting, where the developer will try to get 60+ zoning variances approved.  This appeal is scheduled for 9:30am on Tuesday september 27th at the ZBA Meeting (Room 801, Boston City Hall.)  Everyone is encouraged to attend and make your opinions known.

ZBA Hearing on 64 Allandale scheduled for September 27th, abutters meeting on the 22nd at Springhouse

We need to let the Mayor and City Council know your concerns!

The Boston Zoning Board of Appeals hearing for 64 Allandale is scheduled for September 27, 2016. In addition, a neighborhood meeting (for abutters, but open to the public) will be held at 7:30PM on Thursday, September 22nd at Springhouse Senior Living Community located at 44 Allandale St, Boston MA 02130. Please join us and let the City know how you feel about this development, if you can!

The vast majority of Allandale area residents are opposed to granting of the 60+ zoning variances required for the proposed project; neighbors in Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury have also expressed their position and concern; over 100 emails, cards or letters in opposition have already been sent to the Board of Appeal by residents. Councilmember Matt O'Malley has confirmed his support of residents and his opposition to the 20-unit project as it is proposed.


The Mayor, At-Large Councilmembers and the Board of Appeal will weigh concerns of residents as expressed in emails and letters as the decision is made whether to grant or deny the requested variances. City officials have assured us that no final decision has been made on 64 Allandale, and have encouraged us to send them emails or letters on the project. As we are now close to the hearing date, resident emails sent to the Mayor and other officials, as well as the Board of Appeal, have great value as they decide how to advise the ZBA.

If you have not yet done so, please take the time to send an email as soon as possible to the Mayor, Zoning Board and individually to City Council At-Large members. All emails should reference : 64 Allandale and have "Recommend Denial of Variances", "Opposed to Zoning Relief" or similar subject line , to :

The Mayor's office:

Hon. Martin J. Walsh, Mayor
c/o Office of Neighborhood Services
jerome.smith@boston.gov
christopher.rusk@boston.gov

The Zoning Board of Appeals:

Ms. Christine Araujo and Members of the Board of Appeal
c/o Matthew Fitzgerald
matthew.fitzgerald@boston.gov

Your Boston City Councilor:

matthew.omalley@boston.gov
michelle.wu@boston.gov
michael.f.flaherty@boston.gov
a.e.george@boston.gov
ayanna.pressley@boston.gov

Please cc: Matt O'Malley if possible.

We have assembled a comprehensive packet of information on the 64 Allandale project and its impact on Allandale Woods for the ZBA board members.  Judge Donovan (former Superior Court justice and 64 Allandale abuttor) wrote an excellent two page summary of the facts and is included on pages 4 and 5 of the document.

We will post details of the abutter meeting and the timing of the hearing at the ZBA here as soon as the details are released. 

As always, we appreciate your support and concern for the Woods!

 

 

 

We need your letters to the Zoning Board!

(Our new Lawn Sign - send an email to friendsofallandalewoods@gmail.com to request one)

(Our new Lawn Sign - send an email to friendsofallandalewoods@gmail.com to request one)

Now that the BRA has approved the Wonder Group's 64 Allandale Road development proposal, our next hope of getting the developer to consider a more modest development (with lower impact on the Woods, neighbors and traffic), is to ask the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals to deny the developer's request.  Wonder group has appealed for 53 specific zoning variances related to height, setbacks, frontage and density, since her lot is zoned for single family houses.  The Zoning Board of Appeals is our best hope to pressure the developer to make a more appropriate proposal.


Please write a quick letter or card to:

Christine Araujo, Chair
Boston Zoning Board of Appeals
1010 Massachusetts Ave., 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02118

Or you can send an email to: matthew.fitzgerald@boston.gov

Please reference the 64 Allandale Development proposal and make your position clear in the title so the ISD staff has an easier time counting the comments for and against granting a zoning variance; no need for a lengthy description as the staff just tallies the rough number - but the numbers do count!

More details are available here, if you need background information.  
And thanks for helping the Woods!

BRA Approves 64 Allandale Development Plan May 12th

Expected outcome, dysfunctional process

Our understanding is that the BRA approves all projects (they will delay projects from being considered for approval but once approval is recommended we believe projects are always approved). Indeed, they granted approval to 64 Allandale but approval from the BRA is just the first step in a process that is far from over. The extraordinarily inaccurate BRA presentation and decision only strengthens our resolve to mobilize for a fair and positive outcome for the community.

BRA board meeting:

  • 10 adults and 2 children representing Friends of Allandale attended and conveyed clear opposition (we held up signs in silent protest). The events generated some press mentions (WGBH, WBUR, Boston Globe) and documentation on Twitter. Ours was the first item on the docket not to receive unanimous approval. In Tim Logan’s Boston Globe piece (Friday 5/12), he noted that any dissent is a rarity and a sign that this project is controversial.
  • Chris Tracy, who guided the project for the BRA, misrepresented the lay of the land by failing to accurately convey the level of objectively expressed opposition versus support.  One Friends of Allandale attendee said that in 40 years of attending public meetings, he'd never seen such a poor/unfair representation of events.
  • The developer's attorney, who primarily spoke on behalf of the project, made one false and one deceptive statement with no consequence for doing so. He stated that Springhouse was closer to the woods than this proposed development would be. Yet, in fact, Springhouse is set back by many acres of land put in conservation easement but this project would be 40 feet from the woods. He was asked what zoning variances were sought and did not mention the majority of the variances the developer is seeking. He mentioned two and said they were "the main ones" but did not mention variances for number of units, height, setbacks.
  • At a break in the meeting, two BRA board members said to one member of our group that we should have been allowed to speak, whereas the BRA staff said that members of the public could not speak. This is another example of the dysfunctional process of the BRA. Adam Reilly, of WGBH, tweeted that it was problematic that the BRA board asked about the opposition but the opposition was present but disallowed from speaking.
  • The proposed funds that would have been given to Friends of Allandale Woods that we refused, now seem slated to be given to the City to support improvements to the woods.

 

This Week Yielded Good News for the Woods Too:

·         Many of you wrote terrific letters! The number of letters received by the BRA supporting and opposing the project showed stronger opposition than support (this, despite the BRA’s recommendation for approval). Although roughly half of the letters were letters of support, 90% of these were form letters and we presume many came as a result of paid ads on social media and push-polling. Further, 25% of opposition letters were from outside of Boston and the BRA indicated that it ostensibly gives lesser weight to such letters. Conversely, all of the support letters came from Bostonians, and several letters came from institutions, which demonstrates broader opposition.  None of the support letters came from institutions. The opposing letters were lengthier and more detailed. Even though this wouldnot seem to support the decision by the BRA to approve, these letters and the greater strength of the opposition even without a paid campaign to encourage letters, will be useful to us in the next phases.

  • Letters of opposition to the project included objections from all of the neighborhood associations surrounding the site. Brigham and Women’s, which manages Faulkner Hospital, had previously written a letter of support but submitted a second round letter indicating that it shares opponents concerns about density and impact on the woods.
  • The Evening Garden Club of West Roxbury, which has long gardened in the portion of Allandale Woods across the VFW Parkway from the main portion of the woods, voted to formally oppose the 64 Allandale Project.  We deeply appreciate this support.
  • Yesterday's issue of the JP Gazette includes 4 pieces about the 64 Allandale project and woods: one news story, one editorial, one opposition letter, one support letter.http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/
  • Tony LaCasse attended a meeting of Park advocates from around Boston and there was broad appreciation that our threats also threaten other parks around the city. We could perhaps use this network to broaden opposition beyond residents of the neighborhoods closest to the Woods.
  • A fun, child-friendly, "Walk the Wall" event is in the works stay tuned for details

Next Steps:

  • The next stop is the Zoning Board of Appeals. Our understanding is that "only" 80% of projects are approved there and we have more ability to influence the project through demonstrations of community opposition and political support.
  •   A significant number of projects approved by the ZBA that are legally challenged thereafter, wind up losing on appeal. So, if we need to litigate, we will seek to do so.
  •   Both the Boston Conservation Commission and Dept. of Parks and Recreation assert that they have jurisdiction over this proposed development site. That means they have formal say in the approval process. The developer may fight this legally but ideally one or both of these parties would prevail and have some influence. This also opens another line of possible legal appeal.

What you can do:

  • Attend the forthcoming Walk the Wall event on June 12th (see Visiting/Events page for details.) Stay tuned for other opportunities for planned activities in the woods or grab a map from our website and come visit on your own and bring newcomers to discover the woods (seasonal pro-tip: walk from the woods to get snacks at the Allandale Farm Stand)
  • Connect to us on social media (allandalewoods.org,  Twitter: @allandalewoodsFacebook: friend Allan Dale Woods, and connect others to us.)

BRA Rushes to Approve 64 Allandale Project despite Widespread Community Opposition

BRA Director Brian Golden has a stated commitment to transparent process. This has not been followed. The rush for approval is unsurprising as the longer this project is open to review the more apparent its serious flaws become.

There is a clear pattern of unanswered community concerns Regarding the proposed density of the project, buffer for the woods, and environmental remediation. By clear, significant majority, the public has expressed concerns. Beyond individuals, this includes the three surrounding neighborhood associations, nearby institutions (Springhouse Senior Center and Faulkner Hospital) and conservation groups.

Inappropriate attempt to influence support: Although the developer will not address the true concerns groups have raised about the woods, such as putting any land in conservation easement even though all other institutions along the woods have done so, the developer wished to make a one-time $50,000 contribution to Friends of Allandale Woods. We never requested this and have declined this offer. We see it as a blatant attempt to use petty funds (relative to the scope of the $20 million project) to mislead the public. We will use all means at our disposal, including legal action, to protect the most ecologically significant land in Boston and advocate for development that responds to community concerns and zoning precedent.

There is no case for hardship: There has been no articulated basis for disregarding zoning norms. The laws as they stand should be observed to protect the woods.

Rushed process: The BRA did not update its website to include relevant documents until 3 days before the public comment period ended. People who were unable to attend the hearing had very little time to weigh in. In this recent, 2nd, round of community review, of the very few proposed changes, some were conveyed verbally but with no supporting engineering plans. So the public cannot assess the adequacy of the proposed environmental protection measures. The BRA has decided to hold a hearing for approval only 2 working days after receiving public comments, with only 3 days of lead time before the hearing. This makes it unlikely that public comments will be carefully reviewed or that members of the public can easily attend the hearing.

Attend the BRA hearing at 3:30pm on Thursday at City Hall, Room 901 (The BRA does not allow the public to speak, but we can silently protest) Email the Mayor mayor@boston.gov Stay in touch and get involved via allandalewoods.org, friendsofallandale@gmail.com, on Twitter @allandalewoods, on Facebook by befriending Allan Dale Woods

Next steps on 64 Allandale development

On Monday April 25th, the Wonder Group presented their latest plan for development of the 64 Allandale Road parcel at the BRA Community Meeting.  Over 140 concerned citizens attended as the developers presented a slightly modified version of their plan which faced overwhelming opposition from the community.  The BRA welcomes your formal comments, via email to Chris Tracy, the BRA liaison for this project until May 5th
The developer has made a few modifications to her plan; the first is to  move the southest cluster of townhouses to the northwest to maintain the legally required 100' buffer from the new DEP wetland designation and avoid review by the Conservation Commission (however no clearing and grading plan has been provided to show that the wetland buffer will, in fact, be undisturbed), the second is to change the roadway surface to permeable pavers and adding smaller bioswales throughout the development to contain runoff onsite and the third is to relocated the fire truck turnout between the southern townhouse clusters.  The developers pledged to have public access to the Woods from their road and a path/stairway by the fire truck turnout.
The objectionable elements of the project remain the same: density (20 units), the number of parking spaces (47), the set backs and building heights and traffic concerns have not been addressed in this modified proposal.  

The Friends of Allandale Woods strongly request that you submit your concerns tot he BRA as soon as possible before the May 5th deadline.  The links below provide some background on our position:

Thanks to everyone who came to the BRA meeting to support the Woods!