MassDOT and the freight railroad CSX are battling the owner of a vacant parcel next to a currently dormant rail line behind the South Boston convention center over his proposal to lease out the space for construction companies to park their trucks there.
MassDOT says David Pogorelc's plans for 5 Cypher St. could mess up its own plans to revive the line, known as Track 61, to test the scores of new Red Line cars it expects to begin arriving in 2019. CSX doesn't really have anything at all to do with the old track anymore but wants to maintain its rights to one day restart freight services on it to South Boston and has taken the state's side. The line is the only surviving part of a once dense network of train tracks along the South Boston waterfront.
In September, Pogorelc sued the MBTA and CSX in land court, seeking to have their easements revoked so he use it without encumbrance to offer parking space to the construction companies remaking the waterfront.
Today, however, the zoning board refused to give him the permission he requires to turn the vacant parcel into a parking lot. The board rejected Pogorelc's request without prejudice, which means he can return once he straightens out his disputes with the state and the railroad - and the owner of a neighboring parcel, who also opposes the idea, saying it could make it harder for her to redevelop her land.
At today's zoning hearing, a MassDOT attorney said the state has an easement over part of the parcel, as well as access to the long dormant Track 61, and that the state opposes the parking idea for fear it could somehow interfere with the T's plans to upgrade the track and add a third rail for testing the new Red Line cars as they arrive.
"It's a critically important transportation and environmental project for the Commonwealth," he told the board.
Pogorelc's attorney, Joe Hanley, said Pogorelc is willing to keep trucks at least 10.5 fee away from the center line of the track, which he said would satisfy CSX's concerns. CSX's attorney rose to say it would not.
Hanley also said Pogorelc is willing to work with the neighbor to develop "a robust buffering and landscaping plan" to protect the neighboring parcel.
Hanley tried to convince the board to approve the zoning request without considering the lawsuit or other disputes, saying those were not zoning concerns, but board members weren't buying it, saying they didn't want to be in the position of "sort of getting sucked into a morass here" as one member put it.
The meeting briefly grew testy. When the state and CSX attorneys both rose during the board's deliberations to make points, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo asked: "What is happening? Am I the chair or am I just sitting here?" She then sarcastically asked the landowner's attorney, Larry DiCara, if he had anything he'd like to add. DiCara demurred.
Two teenagers are behind bars for their alleged roles in a robbery turned murder in East Boston Sunday afternoon.
According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, Duncan Ketter, 21, of East Boston, tagged along with a woman who'd agreed to sell some pot to a 16-year-old Sunday, only to wind up fatally shot in a small SUV, his body dumped out at Orleans and Marginal streets.
The juvenile allegedly brought Ketter and the female into a vehicle to exchange the marijuana for cash. Unbeknownst to Ketter or the woman, however, Thorus O’Brien was hidden in the rear cargo area of the vehicle. O’Brien allegedly revealed himself as the vehicle was in motion, producing a firearm and demanding marijuana from the woman and Ketter. When he met with verbal resistance, O’Brien allegedly fired, fatally injuring Ketter. The group allegedly threw Ketter and the woman from the vehicle onto the street.
O'Brien, 18, of Brockton, arrested yesterday, was ordered held without bail on charges of murder, armed robbery and unlawfully carrying a loaded firearm at his arraignment today in East Boston Municipal Court.
The younger teen, also arrested yesterday, was arraigned as a juvenile yesterday on charges of delinquency for armed robbery and armed assault with intent to rob. His bail was set at $100,000.
The Board of Appeal today approved the Elizabeth Stone House's proposal for a 32-unit apartment building at 3012 Washington St., on the Roxbury side of Egleston Square, in which all the units would be rented as affordable.
This is the second official go-round for the proposal, which has been in the works since 2009, and which was originally approved as a 27-unit building. An attorney for the non-profit group said the extra five units would make it easier to obtain financing for the four-story building, which would also house Elizabeth Stone offices and a daycare.
The building has the same dimensions as before; the extra units would be added by reducing the size of the other units.
The Board of Appeal today approved developers' plans to replace two auto-body shops at 233 Hancock St., near Pleasant, with a five-story, 36-unit apartment building that would also feature space for an art gallery.
Benjie and Dan Moll would also tear down two billboards now up the hill from the shops, their attorney, John Pulgini, told the board today.
The proposed building would have 20 parking spaces on the first floor.
The Molls are planning twelve studio apartments, twelve units with one bedroom, eight with two bedrooms and four with three bedrooms, none more than 950 square feet. Board chairwoman Christine Araujo said the sizes seemed kind of small to her. Pulgini said that is to try to bring the rents for each unit down. He added that five units would be rented as affordable.
The T and the city coned off all the parking spaces from Roslindale Square to Forest Hills on Washington Street this morning to test out the logistics of having a dedicated bus and bike lane on the road that serves as a congested funnel for numerous bus routes serving Roslindale, West Roxbury and Dedham.
T workers in yellow vests stood at each intersection to keep cars out - aided by T police, who patrolled the route.
Bus riders were loving it, especially after months of delays at Ukraine Way due to the Arborway project that had gotten so bad many people had taken to getting off at Tollgate Way and walking to the Orange Line. Scotteric reports/a>:
Our 34e is at capacity so we didn’t stop to pick up anyone. Just arrived at the bus station. That was pretty amazing! Let’s do this all the time! 6 minutes, fastest ride from the square to forest hills I’ve ever had.
Tucc06, whose bus did make stops, reports the ride from the square to the station took all of 8 minutes.
Bicyclists also seemed to approve - they had a much wider lane in which to not worry about motorists. As I stood at South Street taking photos, one woman gliding by yelled out: "Best! Thing! Ever!"
Local activists Steve Gag and Alan Wright, who were walking the route handing out fliers explaining the test, said the one problem seemed to be at Archdale Road, because of the large number of motorists turning there. Moving the bus stop to the Forest Hills side of the route might fix that, they said.
There will be a similar test next Tuesday. . The T and BTD are planning a more formal three-week pilot this spring.