The Herald reports City Councilor Mike Ross will return $2,000 in donations from executives of the company that wants to build a $195-million luxury housing project on South Huntington Avenue.
The Herald started nosing around yesterday after organizers of a campaign against the project released details of campaign contributions from developers and their lawyers to Mayor Menino, Ross, state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and City Councilors Matt O'Malley, Felix Arroyo and John Connolly from people associated with either that project or another luxury-housing plan to replace the old Home for Little Wanderers on South Huntington.
The BRA approved that project last week, at a hearing at which the board let Ross speak, but told opponents to sit down. The Zoning Board of Appeals considers the project at a hearing next month. The other project is still pending a BRA vote.
Nearby residents, including Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Chairman Benjamin Day, spent some time recently with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance's contribution database:
After Cedar Valley Development submitted a proposal to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) to construct a ten-story tall, 195-unit luxury housing development at 105A South Huntington Avenue, OCPF reports show that Cedar Valley's three principals, including Michael Nader of Marshfield, Assad Nader of Foxborough, and Anthony Nader of Milton, made "bundled" donations of $2,000 to City Councilor Michael Ross, $1,500 to Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, $900 to City Councilor Felix Arroyo, and $250 to City Councilor John Connolly ($500 per year is the maximum donation permitted under state law).
When the Cedar Valley proposal encountered strong opposition from the community and became stalled at the BRA, the projectâ€™s Attorney, Matthew Kiefer of Goulston & Storrs, and eleven others employed by that firm collectively made donations of $3,550 to Mayor Meninoâ€™s committee. Executives at two of the consultant firms engaged by Cedar Valley added another $1,000. A final decision by the BRA was pending at the time of the donations.
At 161 South Huntington Avenue, Boston Residential Group has proposed to demolish the century-old Home for Little Wanderers building in order to construct a 196-unit luxury housing complex, consisting primarily of studio and 1 bedroom units that would rent for $2,000 per month and up.
The law firm hired by Boston Residential to facilitate its applications with the city, Nixon Peabody, owns a Political Action Committee that earlier this year made $150 and $200 donations to City Councilor Matthew Oâ€™Malley and State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, respectively, the two local elected officials representing the area of the proposed development site.
The Herald quotes lawyers whose firms gave donations - including former City Councilor Larry DiCara - as saying the timing had to do with overall campaign seasons, not the timing of city reviews of their projects.