Members of the Eagle Hill Civic Association voted down four development projects at the group’s November meeting.
Perhaps the most controversial project was at 247 Saratoga St., where the plan was to raze the existing one-family home and erect a four-unit residential dwelling. The other development projects on the EHCA agenda seemed to fall victim to a rare anti-development wave that swept over the crowd.
EHCA has one of the highest rates of approving projects compared with other community group and prides themselves on working closely with developers to create a project that works for both the owners and residents.
The project at 247 Saratoga St. seemed to be that type of project. The developer had reached out to members of the EHCA’s board, like Charlie Lograsso, to get ideas on historical details and materials to create the four-unit Victorian-esque development.
However, at the meeting the crowd was made aware that the abutters who oppose the project could not be there to vote or voice opposition and urged EHCA members to reject the proposal. The abutters, who live in a one family next door to the proposed building, had a letter read by EHCA member John Walkey and cited issues like ‘size’ as a major concern.
The attorney for the developer, Richard Lynds, also received some criticism fromEHCA President Debra Cave for showing a slide that depicted an ‘As of Right’ project at the location. Lynds explained the abutters have made it clear to him and his client that any project that involves a demolition of the one-family home would be a ‘non-starter’ and they would oppose any project that included the razing of the building.
While Cave said showing the ‘As of Right’ slide felt like a ‘threat’ Lynds shot back that it was simply aimed at demonstrating what could ‘legally’ be built there. Because the abutters are unwilling to budge on a project that involves anything more than a one-family home, Lynds said he was merely trying to educate EHCA members that current zoning allows for an even larger monstrosity without the same set backs, rear yard buffers and historic detail that Lynds’s client is proposing to the neighborhood.
Cave said she was disappointed that Lynds’s client could not consider holding off on a vote. Lynds explained that his client was constrained by the real estate deal and could not wait another two months for a EHCA vote before moving forward at the Zoning Board of Appeals.
In the end the group voted 29-7 against the project.
The crowd, riled up by the contentious back-and-forth during the Saratoga Street presentation, proceeded to vote down nearly every other project that night–some that many thought would be slam dunks.
Members voted 22-17 against the project at 303-305 Bennington St. That project plans to demolish the existing building and erect a four-story, mixed-use building with five residential units and one retail space.
The members then voted 27-14 against 343-345 Chelsea St. The project called for razing thge existing building and and erect a four-story building with retail at grade level and nine residential units on second, third and fourth floors.
Another proposal at 337 Chelsea St., which called for razing an existing dilpadated building and erecting a four-unit dwelling was also voted down 19-17.
The only proposal to come out of last week’s meeting unscathed ended in a tied vote. Members voted 22-22 for the project at 79-81 White Street, which called for changing the occupancy from a one to two-family dwelling, add an addition and renovate the building’s facade.