Residents Review Three Projects at OHNC Meeting

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

The Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) had a jam-packed meeting on Monday, April 17, in which residents voted on three projects proposed for the area and also listened to a presentation for a development at the site of the old New England Casket Company.

The first project up for debate was at 40 Orient Avenue, where the proponents are seeking to subdivide an existing 15,000-square-foot lot to erect a new two-family dwelling. Residents did not seem to have many issues with this proposal, as it was supported by a vote of 31 to 10.

While the Orient Avenue proposal saw significant support from residents, the same cannot be said for a project at 217 Leyden Street. The Leyden Street project proposes subdividing the existing parcel into two and creating a two-unit dwelling on the new lot.

Furthermore, the project calls for renovations of the existing structure – to change the occupancy to a four-unit dwelling. As for how residents felt about the proposal – the most prominent concern seemed to be that the project would be cramming a two-family home on a lot that is simply too small to accommodate it.

It was clear there was significant concern regarding the Leyden Street project, so much so that the proposal was opposed by a vote of 38 to 2.

The final project that was up for a vote at this month’s OHNC meeting was at 166 Bayswater Street. The proposal would convert an unfinished attic into a livable area with two bedrooms and more. Also, in this proposal, there are plans to build a new roof at the site as well as build porches for the first and second levels.

Overall, there was not much opposition to this project – the only major concern dealt with a backyard garage at the property being used as a residential area in the past; however, that is not planned to continue. Ultimately, the project was supported by a vote of 27 to 10.

Not only did those in attendance at the meeting vote on some proposed projects, but they also listened to the presentation for a development at 1141 Bennington Street – the site of the old New England Casket Company.

The proponents propose to redevelop the site as a “transit-oriented” residential development with 220 units, an abundance of bicycle spaces, and 121 vehicle spaces, with improvements to open green space and much more.

According to John Casamassima, there was a lot of opposition to the massing and height of the proposed development. Further, there were concerns about the number of parking spaces that seemed to be lacking in the eyes of some residents.

Moreover, there were also concerns about the impact on traffic this project would have on the area. Casamassima indicated that one resident observed that the traffic plan depends on sending cars on Palermo Street – a private way – and that the proponents had not conversed with residents on that street yet.

Overall, the OHNC had a busy meeting on its hands last week. It is scheduled to meet again next month on Monday, May 15, and hear from City Councilor Gabriela Coletta, vote on the 1141 Bennington Street development, and more.

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