Developer Still Can Not Get: JPNA Approval for Dwelling

The developer for the controversial plan to build a three family dwelling on a vacant lot at 16 Murray Ct. has narrowed the variances needed from the City of Boston from eight to two but still could not get support from the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA).

On Monday, the JPNA voted 12-4 to reject the proposal but the developer, Brian Hosker, is confident that he has addressed many of the community’s concern in regards to parking and density.

Since the process began last year the developer has held numerous community meetings to try and work with neighbors on a project that will benefit all parties involved.

However, led by Sal and Maria DiStefano who live in the only single family home at 16 Murray Ct., an opposition group was formed and have rejected each revised proposal made by the developer.

At Monday’s meeting, Sal DiStefano, a Boston Redevelopment Authority Employee, handed out flyers highlighting reasons why he and his neighbors are opposing the plan. They site denisty on the dead end street as an issue as well as lack of parking, blocking of natural light, past negative history at the lot and the fact the three family would be out of character.

Murray Court, which is lined with turn of the century two and three family homes, is zoned as a 3F2 neighborhood. Under that zoning, building a three family is an allowed use of the lot. Ironically, the DiStefano’s, who argue the proposal next to their home would be out of character in the neighborhood, live in the only home on Murray Court that is not a multifamily.

Both Sal and Maria DiStefano (Maria works for the Department of Neighborhood Development) testified at Monday’s meeting saying that if the proponent is allowed to develop the lot it would ‘kill the neighborhood’.

“When is enough, enough?” said Sal DiStefano. “We are asking for the developer to build something less to perserve the last bit of quality of life on the street.”

The developer has proposed to enter into a lease with a neighbor 400 feet from the lot in order to provide three offsite/offstreet parking spaces and has also moved the proposed building nearly 11 feet away from the DiStefano’s home to create more of a buffer than the two and a half feet required under zoning.

Many of the concessions made by the developer have made no difference to the DiStefano’s and their neighbors and had some wondering at Monday night’s meeting whether or not JPNA should be more open minded to new development.

“This is the type of development we need in the neighborhood to attract more market rate housing that will improve our property values,” said one JPNA member who said he bought a condo in a new development on Cottage Street. “We keep talking about how we want to be the next Southie or the next Charlestown but we’ll never get there if we make it so hard for people to develop.”

The proposal will go before the Boston Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday, March 27.

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