OHNC Holds First Virtual Meeting Since Pandemic Began

The Orient Heights Neighborhood Association (OHNC) has become the latest community group to navigate meeting virtually as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. 

Last Monday evening, OHNC members met for the first time since the pandemic began and heard information on a few development projects.

About 45 people joined the OHNC’s pilot ZOOM meeting and the community group’s secretary Sarah Plowman said those who couldn’t attend, or for those who would like to continue to ask questions and share feedback to the developers regarding the projects discussed, can now visit https://tinyurl.com/y5hmsweq. The OHNC board will post a copy of the agenda, the developers’ presentation slides, and meeting minutes. 

“These items will be added to the online folder over the coming week, so please keep checking back,” said Plowman. “Residents wishing to contribute comments or questions can send them via email to [email protected] and/or message us on our Facebook page (@OrientHeightsNC).”

OHNC President Liz Bagley explained that last week’s meeting was kind of like a “practice” meeting to get acclimated to the technology.

No votes were taken at last week’s meeting but members heard information on four development projects.

The first presentation was on Starbucks looking to expand to 24-hour service at their McClellan Highway location drive-thru.

Daniel Brennan of DPB Design Consultants, representing Starbucks, said the Starbucks is currently open  5 a.m. – midnight.

“The proposed changes would affect the drive-thru only and the drive-thru only would stay open 24 hours to serve traffic going to and from the airport,” said Brennan. “The indoor Starbucks cafe’s current hours of operation of 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. would remain.”

The next project discussed was a development project proposed at 1188 – 1208 Bennington St.

There the developer would like to erect a 43-unit residential dwelling with parking for 32 vehicles. The project will be subjected to the BPDA’s Article 80 process.

Attorney  Richard Lynds presented the project and noted that the first presentation on this project was last fall and COVID delayed a second presentation until last week.

The current building is two commercial stories high and the proposed building would reach 61 feet.

Because of its close proximity to Belle Isle Marsh, some members asked if an environmental study would be done. However, Lynds said the size of the proposed building does not warrant or require a study. Lynds added the shadow of the building won’t affect the marsh since the project is over 100 feet from any public park or reservation and therefore doesn’t fall under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.

The next project at 61 Boardman St. plans to erect a 7-unit residential dwelling with parking for 7seven vehicles.

OHNC members said the design of the project is good but wondered if anything could be done to address the hairpin curve on the narrow end of the site to make it less blunt.

Lynds said the development team can look at ideas of how that would work.

Others said the proposed height seems excessive and asked if the roof hatches could be used instead of a head house, which Lynds said they would look into.

The last project presented by Ricky Beliveau of Volnay Capital regarded a proposed project at 133 Boardman St. Beliveau said the plan is to raze existing two-family structure and construct a new seven-unit residential dwelling with parking for seven vehicles.

Some OHNC members had concerns over vehicles pulling in and out of the property on the busy street. Beliveau said his team would look into providing a safe vehicle exit and entrance on the property but noted that currently 3-4 vehicles are actively coming in and out regularly at the address.

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