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Neighbors voice strong opposition to West 2nd Street project

Posted by Patrick Rosso  September 6, 2013 12:31 PM

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Residents in South Boston are not happy with a residential project proposed for West 2nd Street.

At a meeting at the Condon Community Center Thursday night, those in attendance railed against the project proposed for 340 West 2nd St. for its height, proximity to other buildings, and the developer’s seemingly inability to compromise.

The project, proposed by Shamus Holdings LLC, would construct on a vacant 13,000-square-foot lot a four-story, 45-foot tall rental building for 29 units, 43 parking spaces, and a 1,000-square-foot commercial space. A small portion of the units, which would be split between one- and two-bedrooms, would also be set aside for affordable housing.

The project would also include set-back head houses and recessed roof decks.

At Thursday’s meeting, which had close to 50 residents in attendance, George Morancy, an attorney representing the development team, said the project presented was the third rendition of the structure and took into account concerns raised by residents in the past.

“This project actually began a couple of years ago with a concept design that was frankly bigger,” said Morancy.

Previous proposals included an approximately 64-foot tall, five story building for 37-units, according to Morancy.

Although the development has been reduced in size and scope, those in attendance said it was still too big and would have a negative impact on nearby residences, in particular the building at 350 West 2nd St., which would only have small gap between it and the new building, with unit windows from both buildings facing each other.

Residents also criticized the project because of its lack of set-backs and overhanging bay windows on West 2nd Street.

“Why can’t you set it back a little,” asked Paul Greenley, a Bolton Street resident. “There’s no reason to come up on the Foundry Building. The street feels like you are walking in a prison.”

Zoning and conformity to the existing code was also on the minds of many, who said the project and its development team blatantly ignored zoning regulations set in the neighborhood.

“We’re not looking for concessions,” said Karen Gorczyca, who lives in a nearby building. “We’re asking you to follow the zoning regulations.”

In addition to seeking zoning relief for a proposed height of 45-feet – the maximum height allowed in the current zoning is 35-feet – the project also needs relief for its excessive Floor Area Ratio, set-back violations, and insufficient lot size, in addition to a number of other variances.

Morancy said it is no secret that parts of the building don’t conform to zoning, but said it did match other area structures and the feel of the neighborhood.

“If you look at 350 [West 2nd] and the Foundry Building, this building matches the height of 350 and we wanted to match a uniformity of height on the street,” explained Morancy. “We believe it works from an urban design plan.”

Neighbors, however, still saw little need for so much zoning relief.

“You are asking for a Floor Area Ratio that puts our neighbors in a bad situation,” said Jon Ramos, a nearby resident. “I for one would love to see a development on that site, but I don’t think I can support a project that takes sun light away from my neighbors.”

Ramos also submitted a petition with the signatures of 82 residents in opposition.

Before shovels hit the ground, the project still needs several approvals including the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board's sign-off and approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The project is supposed to appear before the ZBA Tuesday, but Morancy said developers will seek to reschedule the hearing.

A date has not been set for the BRA Board hearing.

The BRA’s public comment period on this project ends September 16.

Comments can be submitted by email to lance.campbell.bra@cityofboston.gov or by fax at (617) 742-4464.

Comments can also be mailed to:

ATTN: Lance Campbell
Boston Redevelopment Authority
One City Hall Square, 9th Floor
Boston, MA 02201


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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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