Allandale Coalition March 2018 Update

We last provided a 64 Allandale lawsuit update in December 2017 and are emailing now with a report on recent events.

To briefly recall the history, residents have brought a legal challenge to City of Boston approvals of an 18-unit development at 64 Allandale in Jamaica Plain. The City and developer moved to overturn residents’ lawsuit, but the court issued a preliminary ruling in our favor and the case has moved forward.  

As of early March 2018, the lawsuit has entered a serious new phase, with taking of depositions and motions for summary judgment likely to follow.

The legal issue is important, not just for the future of 64 Allandale and Allandale Woods, but as a precedent for development at other locations throughout our community, starting with 90 Allandale. This two-acre property immediately adjoining 64 has been listed for sale, with offering literature promoting the site as a densely-clustered townhome development. Please see the attached plan.

Residents have an excellent chance to prevail in the 64 Allandale legal effort but we can only do so with continued wide community support. Our fundraising will continue with an Earth Day celebration the weekend of April 21st. Details will be sent along soon.

Over the last three years, support for preservation of Allandale Woods has steadily grown. It has attracted regular visitors, including seniors, dog walkers, parents and children and environmentalists. It has the support of political leaders and community organizations.

We have sustained this progress due to your vocal presence at community meetings, letter writing, phone calls and presence at events -- as well as donations large and small for the new Friends of Allandale nonprofit organization and the lawsuit against the 18-unit proposal.

Whether you regularly visit the woods or not, please consider continued support of the lawsuit. 

Join us at the Earth Day events to meet your neighbors and learn more about this exceptional treasure nestled on the borders of Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Roslindale and South Brookline.

We are so grateful for your support: know that you are making a difference for right now and for generations to come.

Donations of any size payable to “FoAW Coalition” may be mailed to:

Jacqueline Lees, Treasurer 100B Allandale St, Jamaica Plain MA 02130

 

Thank You!

A summary of our concerns 


Detail Update on the 64 Allandale Lawsuit


In the November/December 2017 time frame, the plaintiff neighbors, through counsel, sent a letter to the developer's counsel of an offer of compromise.  The offer consisted in allowing the existing house to be subdivided into 2 units and the construction of 4 single family homes on 8000 sq. ft. lots.  

The developer through counsel never responded to this offer.  The developer showed an unwillingness to abide at all by the existing zoning, which was clearly known when the property was purchased.

Then, in late December, the developer asked the Court for a three month extension in the litigation schedule for both resident abutters and Springhouse, Inc lawsuits.The developer stated that the purpose was to seek resolution of the lawsuit. 

The motion for extension was granted, creating a pause in litigation and a window in time for negotiation.At that point we were cautiously hopeful and awaited a new proposal from the developer. Our determination had clearly caused the developer to explore a possible settlement or alternatives to continued litigation.

In January, the developer held a meeting at Springhouse Senior Living Community and presented a new proposal.  

The proposal consisted of a 16-unit concept site plan, with 5 new detached, duplex structures and 6 units in the existing farmhouse, which would be expanded.

This plan was the first responsive move by the developer during the 2 1/2 year project history. While a positive step, the proposed density remained unacceptably high at 16 units.

The proposal included an increased green buffer area at the project boundary with Allandale Woods and several precedent images of New England farmhouse design, proposed as more in keeping with the neighborhood than the original ultra-contemporary “ski-chalet” architecture.

The developer indicated that she would resolve water drainage and traffic safety issues, but that these would be addressed at the next phase of design.


The developer made this proposal by a series of visual concept slides during an open meeting at Springhouse Senior Living Community, without detail or any subsequent written offer to the attorney representing resident plaintiffs.

Springhouse, Inc representatives spoke favorably of the 16-unit proposal as a positive step and expressed preference for settlement rather then continued litigation or an as-of-right development. 

Even if Springhouse, Inc reaches agreement with the developer on the 16-unit plan, residents’ case and the ability to continue the litigation remains strong.

Non-plaintiff representatives attending provided comment to the developer, essentially stating that the new proposal was welcome in that it addressed a number of long-standing concerns, but that at 16 units the density was still unacceptably high. 

Essential details such as building height and massing (floor-area-ratio) were not indicated and needed to be specified.  A full list of Coalition comment on the 16-unit development plan is attached and posted on the website.

We stated that the developer must next provide project details to the abutter plaintiffs through the attorney and engage in the usual confidential negotiation process.

The developer never provided the 16 unit plan with supporting details to the residents’ attorney, despite the attorney’s multiple emailed and telephone requests during the following month.

Based on the form of proposal and the absence of a subsequent written offer, we have concluded that the 16-unit plan was not a bona fide attempt to negotiate with Allandale residents.

The developer’s initial non-response to resident plaintiffs’ initial offer followed by their subsequent failure to provide written details of the 16-unit proposal unfortunately suggests bad faith in the resolution process of the litigation.  

This pattern leads to the conclusion that even if the developer herself might prefer resolution, the developer's financial backers are driven solely by the greatest return they can obtain on their investment.  Neighborhood quality of life and adherence to the zoning requirements means nothing to them.

We have not ruled out a negotiated agreement, but to compel that possible result and to enforce existing development rules, continued litigation is necessary. 
 
This process consists of depositions, followed by motions for summary judgment: a request to the court from developer that the case be dismissed - arguing that abutter residents will not be harmed by the project - and from residents that the board of appeal variance approvals be voided - arguing that the required standard for granting variances was not met. 

These steps could take from 4-6 months.We have funded this legal work by a combination of abutter direct contributions and numerous individual donations, some modest and some substantial. All contributions are appreciated no matter the size. 

Thank you for the past and continuing support in this important legal case. We remain determined and very hopeful of a successful result in court - based on the egregious zoning violations of the 64 Allandale project.  

Alternatively, we support a negotiation process but only with details in writing and through the proper legal channels.

Once we have definitive knowledge of the litigation schedule further details will be provided.

 

90 Allandale Offering Memorandum.jpg