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!

What will it look like?

We are all familiar with architectural alchemy and "putting one's best foot forward" to sell a development plan, so to answer the question we have heard repeatedly we decided to create our own rendering of the 64 Allandale development from the Woods.  Specifically this is from the path heading east towards the historic Springhouse replica.

Here is what it looks like now (November 2015, actually):

And here is what the view will look like once built (and is consistent with the minor design changes presented to the BRA meeting on April 25th):

Remember to send your thoughts to the BRA before May 5th (email comments to: christopher.tracy@boston.gov )

Sierra Club of Mass. supports Boston Park's concerns with 64 Allandale

While being touted as a "net-zero" solar energy development, the proposed 64 Allandale development by Wonder Group will have a significant impact on the Woods.  Earlier this week the Sierra Club wrote to the Boston Park's Commissioner, Christopher Cook, to support the department's list of concerns about the development and the need to balance wetland protections.

BRA Second Comment meeting April 25th - we need your help!

The BRA announced that they have scheduled a second public comment meeting for 64 Allandale Rd. on April 25th at the Roche Community Center in West Roxbury at 6:30pm.  We assume the developer (Wonder Group, LLC) will present a revised plan although the BRA has not released any details as of April 12th.  It is very important that the Friend of Allandale Woods be present and provide comment on the development since we suspect the BRA will move quickly to the Zoning Board of Appeal on this proposal to minimize public comment.

Information about the proposal is available in the prior post (fact sheet).  The BRA official notice is here: