JPNA Set To Vote on Everett Street Project

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

A project proposed at 200 Everett Street was presented for the third time to the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association (JPNA) at its monthly meeting on Monday and is now scheduled to go to a vote this week.

The project, which Attorney Richard Lynds presented, is to renovate the existing two-story building through a vertical addition and to change its occupancy from a one-family to a three-family.

“A three-family dwelling is currently a conforming use in the district, so up to three units are allowed currently on a single lot,” said Lynds. He also identified that the proposed use would conform to the new zoning initially proposed in PLAN: East Boston, which has been adopted by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA).

As part of the project, there are plans for one three-bedroom bi-level unit covering 1,159 square feet, one 747 square foot two-bedroom unit, and a 612 square foot one-bedroom unit, all intended for homeownership.

Lynds explained that life safety upgrades would also be made to the building in conjunction with the project, and a roof deck is also proposed.

He also reviewed the zoning variances that would need relief for the project to proceed. Under current zoning, the project would require variances for minimum lot size for additional dwelling, open space, floor area ratio, and parking.

However, it should be noted that Lynds showed a chart depicting that the project would not require variances under the new zoning that awaits adoption from the Zoning Commission.

“Essentially, this is going to be pretty much in line with what the zoning will require under new zoning. Because we filed this under current zoning, we are still identifying the variances that we require and [when] we get before the board, depending upon when that is, if the zoning has changed by that time, then these variances will disappear, and we essentially will probably just go for some technical interpretation issues under the new zoning,” said Lynds.

Lynds also explained that an abutter to the left of the property had concerns, which have been addressed through some changes. These changes include removing the proposed parking spot and reducing the decks in the project.

Additionally, permeable surface has been added, and a walkway has been created, which, according to Lynds, will become an “additional recorded means of egress” for the abutter.

Also, a wall depicted in the elevation rendering will be designed to ensure that any expansion of the abutting building could be done “relatively easily without much modification,” per Lynds.

After Lynds wrapped up his presentation, there were only a few questions from the audience. One attendee had asked if a three-foot easement was at the back of the lot, which Lynds indicated was correct.

Another attendee had asked why parking was eliminated from the proposal, to which Lynds, in part, said, “When weighing the concerns and interests, there’s not a one-size-fits-all for every project. In this case, the direct abutter was prioritized more simply because there were some very specific concerns about access to their property.”

“Including parking may have prevented that access from occurring, and our commitment in response to their stated opposition at prior hearings was to incorporate the three-foot easement that will allow them access, and that would be incompatible with including a parking spot,” he added. 

Lynds also commented that the aforementioned abutter had communicated with the JPNA that they had withdrawn their opposition to the project due to the modifications.

This comment is critical because it was not acknowledged by the abutter or anyone on the JPNA Board, which caused a bit of a kerfuffle later in the meeting. 

Later in the meeting, Lynds requested that an email sent to the JPNA Board from the abutter be read out to get the withdrawal of opposition on the record since the project is going toward a vote.

It should also be noted that the meeting agenda on the JPNA website listed a presentation from an abutter of the project, but it never occurred.

Lynds’ request was eventually granted, but a JPNA Board Member mistakenly read out an email from the abutter that was supposed to be private between the abutter and a Board Member.

The email inadvertently shared during the meeting seemed to catch Lynds off guard and frustrate him. Lynds explained that he was forwarded a different email from the abutter and proceeded to recite it.

The email read by Lynds said, “I will not need my spot for an abutters presentation tonight as we were able to work with the developer to designate a proposed easement and reduce the rear scope of the project. I really appreciate this opportunity as well as the opportunity at the P&Z (Planning and Zoning) meeting.”

It continued, “The ability to present really enhanced my ability to share my concerns and negotiate with the developer. We worked out a way to retain the easement and limit the rear scope of the project. We will withdraw our formal opposition.”

After some tense back and forth between Lynds and the Board Member, another member of the JPNA Board clarified that the email Lynds read was, in fact, sent to the JPNA Board.

The abutter also later confirmed in the meeting that the email Lynds read out was sent to the JPNA Board and that they were withdrawing opposition.

The Board Member who accidentally read out the private email immediately apologized for the error. Ballots for the vote are set to be sent out to eligible voters, with the vote closing on Friday. The next JPNA meeting is scheduled for March 11.

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