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