Residents continue to fight 'humongous' 16-unit condo building at Roslindale/West Roxbury line

Joined by district City Councilor Matt O'Malley, residents in the area of Weld and Centre streets once again told developers their proposed replacement for the collapsing old Weld-American gas station is just too big.

The latest proposal from the developers calls for 16 residential units and a commercial unit that would be limited through a deed restriction to professional use, for example, by a lawyer or accountant. An earlier design featured 17 residential units and no commercial space.

Although the four-story building meets zoning requirements for the West Roxbury Centre Street corridor, residents on Hazelmere Road behind the property said it would tower over their land, which sits in the Roslindale single-family-home zone, especially because the land slopes down from Centre towards their property.

Residents said a proposed roof deck would mean loud, disruptive parties that would reduce their property values. And they said the 26 parking spaces were just not enough. Especially when combined with the elimination of the illegal spaces in front of the gas station now, the result would mean a flood of cars parked on nearby residential streets, they said.

One resident expressed the fear that the rooftop HVAC units for the condos would vent a mist of deadly Legionnaire's Disease into the neighborhood below.

O'Malley and residents said they could probably support a three-story building, and said they were appreciative of the efforts to do something about the eyesore the gas station has been for more than 20 years - although one resident said the station has become even more of an eyesore in the year since John Sullivan and Gary Martell bought the property.

Martell said he's sitting on a $5.5-million bank loan and that he's not sure how much smaller he can go. He and his architect said city ordinances require they provide some sort of open space for the building's residents.

Martell said he could provide this through balconies on each of the units, but said that might be more intrusive for residents than a single roof deck. When residents said the difference is a roof deck could be used for rambunctious parties - one predicted police resources would be drained by the constant need to respond there - while balconies are too small for that, Martell questioned how the condo dwellers' parties would be any different than the ones residents of single-family homes could throw.

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Comments

Oh come on. What's a little

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Oh come on. What's a little disease-laden mist among neighbors?

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It's a wonder

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That anyone tries to build anything in this city

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Cram, Cram, Cram

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Every developer with any size parcel thinks City Hall will give them a green light for as many units as possible to help Mayor Marty meet some numeric goal for new housing starts. This leads to developer greed bumping up against resistance from abutting neighbors when new development projects are out of scale with surroundings. Lots of folks in Roslindale don't trust the city any more after living with the size of the hulking building at the top of Washington and Beech or the four story box plopped next to single family homes at Robert and South Fairview Streets. Good urban planning isn't about cramming in maximum numbers of units anywhere. It's about ensuring good, compatible design. The city's record there doesn't inspire much confidence in these parts.

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plopped next to single family

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plopped next to single family homes at Robert and South Fairview Streets

You mean stuck between elevated train tracks and a daycare? The Washington development I'll give you, but the Roberts/South building looks fine and is hardly obtrusive.

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My deeper question is this

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The poster to which you reply is right that there are a lot of single family homes there. Whenever I am walking from Fallon Field, I ask why weren't 2 or 3 family houses built here, as it is steps to the Square and the train station?

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Specifically

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40 South Fairview. Sure, it is not representative of the whole area, but considering almost all residential real estate in the area, it is so out of place as a single.

The rest of the block is a bit more built up, but for the location, more density wouldn't be a bad idea.

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The Washington St. Development

is just fine in my opinion. I give some credence to the Weld/Centre complaint about height placed above the slope*, but the Washington/Beach corner demonstrates the opposite side, with the smaller buildings rising up the slope above. It is far better than, say, the Pleasant Cafe's parking lot.

* On balance I favor the proposal, but I do acknowledge that particular concern as valid. I wonder whether it might be possible to maintain four stories in front, but then a step down to three in the rear.

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In Fairness

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One resident expressed the fear that the rooftop HVAC units for the condos would vent a mist of deadly Legionnaire's Disease into the neighborhood below.

To be fair, even the project's most ardent opponents in the room shook their head and looked bewildered by this comment.

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Ah!

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I was in the front row and was not turned around at the time, so did not see the eye rolling.

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Trying...not to...roll...eyes!

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Auuughhh! Can't help it. Honestly--16 units? For which 26 parking spots are not enough? Humongous? Legionnaires' Disease? Really--what do they want there aside from a decrepit gas station?

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Take a recount

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it's residential and 1 business unit. Add them you have 17 units They only change the zoning of one unit. The business unit gets 2 full parking spaces from the 1.5 parking space total.

What do we want, a project that can take care of the needs of it's tenants and not add to the already stressed infrastructure. .

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MY GOD!

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16 UNITS! THIS ISN'T ALLSTON, THIS IS WEST ROXBURY! WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN! WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!? AND THE ELDERLY! PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY!

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Is it?

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Isn't that the area that managed to switch from 02131 to 02132? I think Yucatan Tacos now advertises itself as being in West Roxbury.

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No, Simply put

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The boarder was the West Rox Pkwy and is now Centre. So across the street is West Rox while this site is Roslindale.

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We will not let West Roxbury annex more of Roslindale

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The south side of Centre Street, which is where this project is, is definitely in Roslindale. The north side is Roslindale's Crimea, which should be in Roslindale but was taken away. Yucatan Taco's is in the area's Sevastapol region.

I've taken to running on the Roslindale side of Centre Street, patrolling to make sure West Roxbury is not building up forces to take more land. Ever vigilant.

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Doesn't matter

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Eventually the turkeys will outgrow Brookline and take over your Crimea, see you one Sevastapol and confiscate all of Roslindale. I'm sure the TLF will back me up on this. They are very strategic those fowl feathered friends.

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I don't trust those turkeys

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Most of them went to CM, and they spend their Friday nights hanging out in the cemeteries on the Parkway. I think they are on the West Roxbury payroll.

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Enough Is Enough

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Someone appoint me to the BRA so I can go all Le Corbusier on West Roxbury.

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*Roslindale

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*Roslindale

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If anyone is still wondering

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If anyone is still wondering if the BRA has gone a little rudderless, on the one hand we have projects steamrolled into neighborhoods, and on the other hand we have complaints about four story "towers" and disease carrying HVAC units being taken seriously. Maybe it's time for some new planning documents, huh?

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What a bunch of jerkoffs

"Wahhh, my property values!" (Expletive) off. The property is worth $0 if it isn't for sale, and you need shelter, since you're (at least ostensibly) a human being.

I didn't tell you to outbid everybody else for a Boston address. That's your problem. Everybody has the human right to shelter, and everybody has the right to try and be a Bostonian. If somebody wants to be a loud drunken schmuck outdoors, that's happening whether there's a roof deck or not.

"One predicted police resources would be drained by the constant need to respond there." Funny, I thought Bostonians were supposed to be smart. I read quotes like this and wonder how the (expletive) this city ever earned that reputation.

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If only there was a voice of reason

If only there was a voice of reason, like someone from the city who coul... oh, wait, what? Joking!

For those wanting to know more about this, check out the BRA's website where you can see renderings as well as get an idea of what the neighborhood looks like.

The developer seems to do a good job. There are photos of other projects and they seem well designed and look sturdy. (Disappointed that there's above-ground parking for aesthetic reasons, and because it means fewer units, but can understand the reason for doing so - mainly, cost to build an underground garage.)

This project certainly doesn't look out of place, at least from Centre and Weld streets. I can at least understand one of the criticisms, that, as you point out, neighbors fear the condos would "tower" over their own homes, due to the hill and the four-stories of height.

The parking requirement is simply ridiculous. Who has a car these days, let alone 1.5? (Did you notice the bus stop just across Weld Street?)

Gotta say, if/when they build this, if you're thinking of buying one of the condos, be damned sure they did what they were supposed to do when taking out the buried oil tanks (the PNF says they will do "remedial" work). I say this as a friend, I'm not giving real estate advice.

Images (from the BRA filing) http://imgur.com/a/lkM4h

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There's the rub

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As residents said, it looks fine from across Centre Street. The issue is the back end of the project, which sits on a rise atop a neighborhood of single-family homes. So a four-story building effectively becomes a five-story building from their perspective, just a few feet from the property line (8 feet, I think).

It's an interesting issue: There's no buffer here between a commercially zoned district, where buildings can butt up against each other (in fact, it's encouraged, to avoid gaps in the "complete streets" the city wants) and a district zoned for single-family homes.

As somebody who lives in a single-family home, I can sympathize (and breathe a sigh of relief that the fact that all the lots around us are developed and occupied and we live on a hill so we'll never have to worry about this). It's maybe not quite as bad as some horror show like Framingham, where you go from the overbuilt mega-mallness of Rte. 9 to what seems like rural countryside in the space of half a block, but, no, this is not Comm. Ave. in Allston, it's not even really Centre Street: It's the wooded (on the aerial photos the developer used, the streets had to be shown as gray lines, because you can't see the actual streets for all the trees), low-density area behind it.

The developers are absolutely right that they're not to blame for the way the zoning is, but you can see why the residents might be concerned. And, as always, a hearty screw-you to people from higher-density areas with attitude: Not everybody in Boston lives in apartment or condo towers, this is a big enough city to support both high and low-density areas and it gets tiring to read how people in single-family homes are somehow less worthy as human beings.

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interesting...

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..but no idea how you arrived at the last sentence. It's primarily people in SF homes that have the clout in these neighborhoods to kill these projects. less worthy, Adam, really?

also, how are we doing on our 30,000 new homes countdown in the next decade or so? anyone keeping track? clearly no one downtown is.

IMHO, this seems like a reasonable project.

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Not in this case

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The home owners do not have the clout. The change of the street address to Weld instead of Center was to avoid a variance in which a previous developer didn't do and didn't get their project approved since the address didn't provide enough distance between the building and the homes. This project change the address to avoid this and thus are building very close to homes.

The SF homeowners have no clout and their concerns are not taken seriously and it's more than the noise, exhaust and a roof top deck. The neighbors want the right project not an over grown box that stresses the neighborhood's infrastructure without discussing ways to improve it. The city needs to do better than just give the green light.

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Erm...

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I don't recall the "less than human beings" bit and I can see from the looking-up rendering why they're concerned. But for Pete's sake...aren't they currently a scant few hundred feet from a very busy road? And again--it was a gas station, not a meadow. I'm honestly asking--do they want another gas station there? If not a measly 16 condos then what?

I remember the kerfuffle years ago when the firehouse on the flat of Beacon Hill (later of Real World fame) was made into a community center and the abutters were freaking out that it might be used for... dance classes. Like...well, isn't that a bit quieter than the fire engines you lived with for years?

So yes, I do get a bit impatient with the snowflakiness of it all. They are not putting in a new subway line or a discotheque and its Roslindale, not Vermont.

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Well...

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Consider the source.:)

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What we want

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Actually, it was recommend to reduce the building from 4 stories to 3 stories. A reduction of the number units (total meaning both residential and business). Because the zoning says you can build a 35 feet building it doesn't mean you have to use all 35 feet. We asked for 2 parking spaces for each units. We ask for a more reasonable size building and but the developers return with the same plans but only 200 square feet smaller, lets see that maybe two rooms smaller. The changes have only been made to the front of the building with little impact to the back which impacts the abutters.

We want something built that is reasonable, not something built because there is an empty space and that the developers will go to the maximum and the minimum in different areas and still not listen to the neighborhood. There were plenty of ideas and suggestions made even to overcome some of the problems.

We don't want an empty gas station and like to see the see the area utilized. There was a rumor of a Gardening Florist Shoppe to open and there was much excitement to see the space used. So no we don't want the empty gas station but we would like to see the right project built not a building being built with little thought of the impact.

Yes there is opposition but we've been willing to meet the developers part way. We have found the developers' changes to be minimal and finding ourselves going over the same opposition.

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It all comes down to zoning.

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I have little sympathy for folks who purchase homes not knowing what could be built next to their property. I live in a mixed area; commercial buildings up against single family and homes with apartments. I have lived in another town that also did not have this buffer. It is not an unique issue.

I am a bit confused by your last sentence; I always thought it was the apartment dwellers who were viewed as "somehow less worthy as human beings." At least that is my experience reading folk's posts and attending those wonderful meetings like the one going on for this potential development project.

(And, Sally, you make very good points.)

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OMG

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I can see a BUILDING above a neighborhood of homes.

Three words - GET A LIFE!

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Winter

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As residents said, it looks fine from across Centre Street. The issue is the back end of the project, which sits on a rise atop a neighborhood of single-family homes. So a four-story building effectively becomes a five-story building from their perspective, just a few feet from the property line (8 feet, I think).

This will be a problem in winter, but come summer when those trees fill in, less of a problem. The rendered photo showed the worst case scenario. Those trees are pretty tall and from the angle across the street it looks bad, but get into those back yards and it's less of a problem.

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DEP

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Gotta say, if/when they build this, if you're thinking of buying one of the condos, be damned sure they did what they were supposed to do when taking out the buried oil tanks (the PNF says they will do "remedial" work). I say this as a friend, I'm not giving real estate advice.

If it wasn't already done, notification with the DEP will have to be in order to dig and build the foundations. The developer will have to hire an LSP to handle any hazardous materials in the soils.

This is all public knowledge and can be researched on the DEP website for the address in question. I don't have time right now, otherwise I could do that for you guys.

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Bus Stop

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The parking requirement is simply ridiculous. Who has a car these days, let alone 1.5? (Did you notice the bus stop just across Weld Street?)

Nearly everyone in this area own 2 or more cars.

Yes there is a bus stop on Weld Street, the 52 and yes there is a bus on Centre Street the 38. They don't run regularly and there is no service on Sunday. The 38 bus runs close to 2 hours apart after 7 and stops about 11:30 PM. The 52 bus stops about 10:30 PM. Hardly the bus schedule that would support someone needing to use public transportation.

This issues was raised during the meeting and posed to the city representative and the BRA representative about increasing and improving public transportation in the area to support less car traffic and making the city and area more accessible.

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What the BRA Told Me

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Or at least one official a couple of years ago. She said that as trying as it may be to get large projects (measured in dozens of floors) approved downtown - the western neighborhoods are the worst.

It sounds like this developer is building completely as of right. How the hell does anyone (O'Malley included whom I normally like) have the cajones to come in and tell someone - yes, you have every right under the law to build four stories - but we only want 3 - especially a city official. If he wants 3 - then the city has to pay him for the lost units. At some point the developer should just tell them to stick it - although his project may magically go poof in the night if he does that.

Boston needs close to 3000 units of housing a year, ESPECIALLY in areas like West Roxbury where slightly more affordable units can be built. We can't afford to be downzoning low density areas. Even downtown neighborhoods in high density areas are working proactively with the city to see where we can reasonably upzone or we won't even be able to keep up with demand, much less get any kind of a relief from rapidly rising prices and rents,

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Oh, God, I'm defending Westie ...

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There are parts of West Roxbury that could support increased density: Centre Street and Washington Street (in fact, there's a new apartment building going up right now on Washington near Grove - it's replacing a single-family house on a large lot).

Same for Roslindale and Forest Hills - look at the buildings now going up in Roslindale and across from the Arborway bus depot.

At some point, somebody is going g to have to figure out what to do about the chokepoint that Washington Street from Rozzie Square to Forest Hills has become, but that's maybe another discussion.

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Roberts St

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A good example of a relatively successful project is the condos next to the train station on Roberts St. While one neighbor complained, that project proceeded with a minimum of fuss and added what, 12 new apartments to the neighborhood.

I have sympathy for the people who are adjacent to the building site but I don't see how you can accommodate that kind of grade concern easily into zoning. It's similar to how at one of the Tony's Market meetings, a woman complained about that new building next to Bani's on Washington. No doubt it negatively impacted the people downhill of it, but it got built anyways, adding three more units to the inventory. Some times people are negatively impacted and it can't always be helped.

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Steamrolled on Roberts Street

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There was a LOT of neighborhood opposition to Roberts Street but the project was approved hastily, with very little community process, and the sneaky way this thing went down (or went up) left a lot of bitterness in its wake among people who were here at the time. Just go ask the people who live around it. The outcome and the lack of an open process made people angry, bitter and cynical.

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A lot?

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I remember one person complained about the shade on her garden. What was the community process lacking, the ability to say no? By live around it, do you mean the daycare center or farther over towards Fallon Field?

People in Roslindale are either angry, bitter or cynical or ill-informed utopians it seems from the meetings I've attended. Or maybe a mix of both. To review then:

Roberts St - angry neighbors
Substation - angry locals about traffic impact
Belgrade Crossing - angry locals
Beech/Washington triple decker - angry neighbors.
Weld American - angry neighbors
West Rox. inhaler factory - angry 'neighbors' even though no-one actually lives next to the site.

Etc...

BTW, I've been 'here' for 10 years and that was my go to gas station.

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SO HENCE ALL THE ANGRY

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SO HENCE ALL THE ANGRY NEIGHBORS GUESS YOU SHOULD IGNORE THE COMMUNITY AND BUILD WHAT EVER YOU WANT.EVERYONE OF THOSE DEVELOPMENTS LOOK THE SAME, PEOPLE DONT WANT LARGE APARTMENT UNITS.IT IS ZONED THAT WAY FOR A REASON TO KEEP IT THE WAY IT IS, IF YOU DONT LIKE IT DONT MOVE THERE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF HI RISES DOWNTOWN, AND JUST BECAUSE MARTY SAYS WE NEED TYO ADD SO MANY UNITS , WHO IS HE TO FORCE DOWN THE COMMUNIITY 'S THROAT

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Hey, hey, HEY now

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The poor guy only has a short break from his job at the National Weather Service to gripe about the state of Roslindale. He ain't got no time for things like spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

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At some point, somebody is

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At some point, somebody is going g to have to figure out what to do about the chokepoint that Washington Street from Rozzie Square to Forest Hills has become

EXPAND THE ORANGE LINE

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South Street

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Make South Street a combination of bike lane and dedicated shuttle bus route, just running back and forth to from Forrest Hills to the intersection with Washington. I suspect the residents South St might not like it, but c'est la vie.

Or, just have one bus which stops between Adams Park and Forrest Hills - every other bus on Washington St is an 'express' to FH, reducing the amount of starting/stopping buses on the street.

Or put a monorail or gondola system above the Needham Line from FH to the Square.

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Express busses would do SO

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Express busses would do SO MUCH for that corridor, and require so little additional investment on the MBTA's part, it blows my mind how they refuse to do it.

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Instead, we're spending $3

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Instead, we're spending $3 billion(probably more in the end) to expand our slowest form of local transportation to an area already replete with transit.

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Wha?

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What-where? I'm mostly curious to know what area is "replete with transit."

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Somerville has two transit

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Somerville has two transit lines with multiple stations for both (Sullivan may technically be in Charlestown but in terms of accessibility, it's Somerville all the way). North-South access may suck, yeah, but it's more than Rozzie's every-other-hourly commuter rail (that doesn't even run on Sunday!)

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Not exactly

The Orange and Red lines have only one stop each in/near Somerville, and only serve small areas of Somerville.

Somerville also has difficulty routing bus lines due to the hills.

The GLX goes right down the middle of a big empty space in transit service.

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Try

Checking the library where the thesaurus was recently loaned out.

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Great point

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And hopefully one our new mayor addresses in his planning process. There are areas all over Mass that have become chokepoints - not just in Boston (has anyone tried coming north on route 3 or route 24 recently during rush hour?). We slapped all that development up in Southie with little/no regard to transit. Ditto Fenway which at least has the green line in the vicinity - but at times that's full up as well. Sometimes cities (Detroit?) collapse under their own weight and implode. Boston may end up harming itself simply by popping at the seams. Not sure either problem is easy to fix and neither is cheap.

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How to fix the choke point

At some point, somebody is going g to have to figure out what to do about the chokepoint that Washington Street from Rozzie Square to Forest Hills has become, but that's maybe another discussion.

That was figured out long ago. Extending the Orange Line a mile south to Rozzie Square is one of the easiest, highest bang for the buck 'T expansions available. The trick is in convincing those holding the levers of power to get behind the idea.

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Why isn't this something RVMS

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Why isn't this something RVMS is taking a leadership role on? Of everything that could possibly shoot an injection of more interest and cash into the businesses of the square, getting us on rapid transit would do the most. Realistically, even with strong community advocacy these projects take 20 years, but it seems like none of the neighborhood organizations are interested in even starting.

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Paging ckollett!

Yeah, good question, and for some reason it never even occurred to me that RVMS should be involved in advocating for an OLX. Maybe it hasn't occurred to them, either. Perhaps Universal Hub's resident RVMS board member can chime in.

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Why expand the Orange Line?

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The commuter rail parallels the orange line to Forest Hills and the next stop is Rozzie Village. Why not just adjust pricing - and perhaps transfer rights - and you don't need to build an orange line extension - it already exists. why the need to lay all that track (and where do you put it?)

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Frequency and future NEC requirements

There are two problems with the Needham Line as transit for Rozzie. The first you've identified, which is the ridiculous and punitive price increase for the extra mile. The second regards capacity. The Needham Line is already fairly crowded by the time it reaches the Square, so reducing the price won't actually make more seats available during the rush hour crush loads. This could be fixed by adjusting schedule frequency, but that requires taking more available slots from NEC capacity north of Forest Hills. Right now some slots are available, but taking them for a short local commuter line doesn't sit well with Amtrak's expansion plans.

While I like your for project cost reasons, I don't think it can actually happen in a way that solves the bottle neck. It's just not possible to get many more passengers on to Needham trains in Roslindale. Further down the road, I think the entire Needham Line needs to go, replaced by a Green Line branch for Needham splitting off the D after Eliot (ROW is already there) and an Orange Line extension for Roslindale and West Roxbury. But medium term, we could do the Rozzie extension at low cost without having to take on the more significant project.

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Where do you put the tracks?

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Do you connect the orange line to the commuter rail and just kill the commuter rail and effectively make the orange line a single track light rail from Forest Hills to Needham (actually that might make sense in a lot of ways)? Do they parallel each other? Does it run down Washington as a subway? Double track/single track/gantlet track (now that would be unusual around here)?

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The existing ROW has room for more track

It was originally two track, and even then it had extra room. The Busey St. bridge would need to be replaced, as it is only wide enough for two tracks, and we would need three, but aside from that, there is room along the entire route to Roslindale without any land takings. That's why an OLX could be done without eliminating the Needham Line. It's only when you go further South that the proposition becomes one or the other but not both.

Short term: Extend Orange Line to Rozzie Square

  • Triple tracking existing ROW
  • New Busey St. bridge
  • New terminal station
  • Cost: ~ $100 million

Long term 1):Extend Orange Line from Rozzie Square to Home Depot/West Roxbury Educational Complex

  • ROW only wide enough for two tracks necessitates killing Needham Line
  • Existing bridges are sufficient
  • Existing ROW is sufficient
  • New station construction
  • Cost: not sure on this one

Long term 2): Branch from D-line after Eliot

  • Use abandoned ROW that connects to Needham line at Needham Heights
  • Requires flying junction
  • New station construction
  • Cost: not sure on this one either

As mentioned above, I think the Needham Line is eventually going to lose its access to the NEC when Amtrak expands. This will necessitate the longer term extensions. But before that becomes necessary, we can solve a major transit problem on the cheap by doing a phase one extension to Roslindale.

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Not so easy

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And since you will be capturing mostly existing transit riders, not much bang for the buck.

I ranted about this before. Busses would have to remain, so there would be little aid to traffic, and your $100 million estimate (low balling IMHO) ain't spare change considering the Feds most likely wouldn't kick in for a 1 mile extension.

To be honest, in theory I am totally with extending the Orange Line to VFW Parkway, but there are several other T projects, beginning with maintenance, I would want the T to get to first. Just putting the Orange Line to the Square would be way too disruptive and expensive to be worth it.

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For what it's worth

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O'Malley lives nearly within sight of this development, thus his interest in the plan.

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He used to

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He grew up across the street, but he now lives in a condo in JP. Maybe his family still lives there?

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As of right?

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The developers are going to be building this project as of right, and yet they are expected to change their plans if elected officials and neighbors tell them to? What, then, does as of right mean? If our elected officials and others don't like the parameters developers must follow in as of right projects, then they should try to change the laws, but as long as as of right means what it does today, then they have no business telling the developers to change their project. Matt O'Malley should be embarrassed. Maybe the neighbors don't understand the concept, but I would have hoped Matt, at least, does. Pathetic.

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Meets zoning requirements?

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Although the four-story building meets zoning requirements for the West Roxbury Centre Street corridor, residents on Hazelmere Road behind the property said it would tower over their land

I'm confused. If the proposal meets zoning requirements, that means they don't have to get the ZBA's approval, which (I thought) means they can pull permits tomorrow and start demolition. I respect the developer trying to meet the neighbors halfway, but at the point where they start complaining about contrails and Legionnaire's Disease and god-knows-what-else, I don't think it would be out of line for the developer to tell them to go pound sand.

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More than just the ZBA at play

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This is Boston, after all. They need BRA approval (they were originally on the BRA-board agenda a couple weeks ago, were taken off because of the neighborhood concerns). Because it's across the street from the Arboretum (not the part most people know, but still), they need Parks Department sign-off as well. And they've yet to do a lot of the soil and engineering work they'd need for ISD and BWSC approval.

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Thanks, Adam

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Should have known better than to think there was only one regulatory agency to clear. I've mostly been dealing with the 3200 Washington development, which made it sound like JPNDC approval was required for BRA approval, which was required for ZBA approval. Didn't realize they were all separate entities who could each torpedo the project... it's a wonder anything ever gets built here.

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I think you mean JPNC

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That is, the JP Neighborhood Council, not the JP Neighborhood Development Corporation. In any case, JPNC recommendations are strictly advisory and are generally addressed to the ZBA, not the BRA. And as we saw at 3200, the ZBA can wisely choose to ignore them.

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I am not well versed in

I am not well versed in Boston zoning (then again who is, it seems more complicate than anything I have ever encountered) but I have experience with zoning in a few other cities. Where I live we have zoning by right (you can build X and if you meet the requirements there is nothing anybody can do to stop you) and zoning by special permit. Each zone has both by right requirements and by special permit requirements for maximum occupancy, height, sideyard set back, parking etc. If a project is within the by right requirements there is very little my city can do to stop them but if its by special permit it must be voted on by the boards.

I heard people saying shame on the residents for buying property next to property that they did not know what was going to happen with it. That is not a fully fair thing to say because that could happen to any of us, who's to say that the houses next to you will not catch fire and then be turned into a larger building after that? I would suggest that the developer is taking a risk buying and developing property in an area that does not gurantee him/her the parameters they want. One of the risks is that the neighbors may not like it and that risk is compounded by the fact that they might just be against it enough to fight the proposal.

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Frustrating

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There are people who live near to this project that are all for knocking down that horrible eye sore abandoned gas station and welcome a reasonably-sized condo building there. Those people don't really show up to night meetings though unfortunately and don't want to be seen as fighting with their neighbors. That's kind of how it always is. I do think Adam is right in saying this site is a little unique in its slope affecting the homes directly behind it, which might mean that a slightly smaller building at this site is appropriate even if the zoning is for 35 feet. It'd be terrible to miss this opportunity, though, I'm hoping cooler heads prevail at City Hall one way or the other.

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I hope the developer walks

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I hope the developer walks away and lets the gas station rot even further. The neighborhood would deserve it.

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Deserve it...

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Yeah we would deserve it and perhaps we'll find the right developer to build the right project. We do deserve the right project. Perhaps in the mean time they can rent the space out to the businesses as a parking lot to reduce the parking issue in the area.

I hope you never have to deal with this issue I wouldn't wish something like that on you. At least we have a heart to wish you something better.

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I am the homeowner who lives

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I am the homeowner who lives directly behind the gas station. I purchased my home knowing that a condo unit was proposed for the site. In fact, we got a pretty good deal on the house because nobody else wanted it-- most likely for that reason (or maybe it was the pink bathroom). We are NOT opposed to any development on this site, and my neighbors have been vocal about that. We are opposed to this 4 story building design and 16-17 2-3bd units on a small complicated piece of land in a neighborhood that is already struggling to accommodate overflow parking from Centre St and sewage drainage and scant public transit.

The developer has promised to keep the large trees currently on his property, and with my trees on the adjacent sloping land it will provide a little privacy in the Spring/Summer. However, in order to prevent land slides etc onto our property they need to build a retaining wall right next to those trees on our properties-- not sure how these privacy trees will survive that construction. Future studies will delineate this feat. Also, a 4 story structure really does tower over the neighborhood below this slope. Based on drawings we saw last night, a smaller 3 story structure is definitely more reasonable from our viewpoint-- but that's not what they proposed.

To the critics: It's easy to sit at your computer, have an opinion and call me and my neighbors jerk-offs. It would have been more constructive to have attended the meeting and listen to our valid concerns and voice your support for the condo complex. I didn't hear any support for the current development design at the meeting last night. In fact, my husband and I were the only residents to approach the developer and architect to give them our contact info so we could work on a good solution. Sure, my neighbors and I would much rather see a community garden in that spot (though would never actually eat the vegetables growing in that soil), but we know that's not the right the solution in the favor of progress. We aren't fighting a housing development. We are opposing this particular design plan in hopes of maintaining the character and safety of our neighborhood.

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What is it you don't understand?

The words "as of right" and "zoning" have meaning. If you got a good deal, then good for you. But don't whine because someone else is using their property as they have a right to do (and as you had every opportunity to know that they have a right to do).

Character and safety? Oh please. How, exactly does this development negatively impact safety? Safety comes from activity - lights, and people. You don't have that now. Character? So are you saying a derelict gas station is "character"? If your neighbors told you that you couldn't have a lawn ornament or a political sign or a back deck because of "character and safety", you would be the first to tell them to go away and MYOB.

Face it: you are on a power trip - and you are demanding improvements to your property as a bribe, too! It sounds like the developer did listen to your concerns, but then dismissed many of them as invalid. You are just like those yahoos in North Cambridge who opposed redevelopment of a lumber yard by raising these same red herrings. They also demanded only three houses on 1.5 acres "to be in character of the neighborhood" (we are talking next to Alewife here - 3,000 square foot lots at best), wanted "reduced density" on a project proposed at the same density as their current neighborhood, deeded parking in the development, and complete resolution of existing flooding issues.

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Drainage and runoff

are probably the biggest issues on the site besides the height. I don't know where you saw the homeowners demanding improvements to their property. I'm sure the retaining wall is something the city agencies are looking for. I would be worried about the trees as well.

I think the homeowner presented a good explanation of the opinions of the neighbors.

I'm sure many neighbors were hoping for a townhouse style development or something similar in design, like the one that was built right across Centre Street from this site.

I read safety to be talking about the cars and traffic in the area. Right now it is difficult to find parking there with the eating places, bar, and cleaners, even with the angle parking, which is difficult to back out of when you have a giant SUV next to you blocking visibility. I see lots of close calls there. And congestion is with a basically one-story commercial area.

Just curious, from the drawings posted above, I couldn't figure out where the parking lot is for the condos.

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Drainage & Runoff

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drainage and runoff are not allowed to go onto adjacent properties. The designers know this and are supposed to provide systems that take care of it onsite.

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Two Questions; One Suggestion

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Questions:
1) Did you go to the meeting?
2) Have you ever visited this area or Roslindale/Site?

Suggestion:
Stop acting like a condescending __________!

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Safety is an issue

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Traffic really is a problem here and this development will cause more difficulties in this regard. Our tenants and our neighbors have both had their cars side-swiped while parked on the street just from the cars pasing through. The cars zoom down Knoll Street as a cut-through very fast. The intersection of Centre Street and Weld Street is really terrible too--crossing the street driving through, etc. having cars trying to pull out onto Centre or Weld will really add an additional bad element. We have kids on our street but they cars are so dangerous we have to be very careful.

This kind of thing is difficult but something instead of Weld America, which is now covered in graffiti too would be great. It would be nice for something that comes close to working for everyone would be good. Btw I think a roof deck is better than balconies.

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Really

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The words "as of right" and "zoning" have meaning

If this is true, why do they need the approval of the BRA? Why were they told by the BRA and go back and address the concerns. They need the BRA's approval. As a right and the zoning may be different to you but they were required by the BRA and their rules to come to the neighborhood and present the project.

The as a right was brought up and we all understood that they can pull the permits but the BRA representative quickly reminded them that though that might be case they still need the BRA approval, they still need the various agencies to sign off on the different aspects of the project.

If this was an as a right project they would be constructing the project and never have come to the neighbors. You might have known this if you were at the meetings.

Maybe you can swirl around and learn what it means. The developers kept saying as a right and BRA you still need approval, so some where in the middle is the true meaning.

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Oh.

... awkwaaard.

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I would much rather see a

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I would much rather see a community garden in that spot (though would never actually eat the vegetables growing in that soil),

lol

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Why not?

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If the area is cleaned up and the soils are replaced, per DEP requirements it shouldn't be a problem.

Not everyone is out to get you or screw you over you know.

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Sorry, I couldn't make the meeting

I have a night job. But here I am to pick apart your reply.

"In fact, we got a pretty good deal on the house because nobody else wanted it."

Well, what did you pay? I have a hard time believing that "nobody else" wanted it. People would step over their own mother to live in Boston in 2015.

"However, in order to prevent land slides etc onto our property they need to build a retaining wall right next to those trees on our properties"

I have a hard time believing that said hill didn't exist when you moved in.

"Also, a 4 story structure really does tower over the neighborhood below this slope."

So? Is there a majestic mountain range in Dedham that you wouldn't be able to see if this were built?

" I didn't hear any support for the current development design at the meeting last night. "

I'm not surprised. Meetings like this are often attended by a self-selecting group of people opposed to the proposal. There's no real point in showing up to say "aye aye." It's not a binding referendum.

"We aren't fighting a housing development. We are opposing this particular design plan in hopes of maintaining the character and safety of our neighborhood."

A shortage of housing was a problem in Boston yesterday. I don't see a plan for housing all the Long Island folks. I don't see a plan for housing all the college kids, who are free market customers of legal businesses. I don't see a plan for fixing rents, which are too damn high.

You know how I say "adopt the kid or shut the (expletive) up" to abortion opponents? I'm going to start saying "adopt the homeless or shut the (expletive) up" to people who oppose the building of housing. Do you know why the plan is for four stories? Because four stories worth of humans can and will occupy it.

If the businessman looking to build this building thought that only three stories of housing would rent/sell, he would have proposed three. In a place where a 1BR is $1,800 a month, the competition should be welcomed. To be a human being who endeavors to place obstacles in front of the construction of any housing is at best disingenuous and at worst self-centered. Even Tsarnaev deserves three squares and a roof and a cot before we carry out his sentence.

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THEN TEAR DOWN YOUR HOUSE AND

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THEN TEAR DOWN YOUR HOUSE AND BUILD THERE, PEOPLE SHOULD HAVE A SAY TO WHATS BEING BUILT IN THERE BACK YARD THAT IS WHY ZONING LAWS EXIST HEY IF YOU WANT TO CURE THE WORLDS HOUSING PROBLEM DO IT ON YOUR PROPERTY LET ME KNOW HOW THAT GOES

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Really?

THAT IS WHY ZONING LAWS EXIST

Here is the issue: this development meets the zoning!

Zoning laws exist to constrain development BUT they ALSO exist to constrain reactionary NIMBYism!

Zoning isn't just anything that any abutter gets to make up on the spot because they don't like a proposal that meets current zoning! Or something that neighbors get decree after a plan is made because they think they have some special right to control over property that isn't theirs.

If you don't want certain types of development next to you, then you have to change the zoning BEFORE there are proposals to use a parcel! BEFORE. If you can't see ahead that far, suck it up and deal with it. Other people have rights to their property, too.

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Millionaire

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I love how so many people say "better a huge building than what is there now". The current and previous owners should not be rewarded for making this property a blight. The BRA took a gas station in the square over that. Why not the same here. Anyone know if the gas station in the square was blighted for 10+ years? With little effort the property could be cleaned up (mowed, trash removed, graffiti painted over). Making it a blight is supposed to be motivation for the neighborhood to pass anything.

Neither the current owner or previous owner live in Roslindale, they do not care what it looks like as long as they get a cool million out of it!

A seven foot parking is just playing with numbers. Park your SUV in that garage making a eight point turn. Do you think these people are gonna pull into the garage to run into the condo or double park in front?

I don't care what rules are put in place at the intersection. The BPD has chosen not to enforce existing rules, so what chance is there they will in the future.

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Don't know if it was 10+ years

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But, yes, the gas station in the square was boarded up for a long time. And let's not forget the substation, so neglected it still has trees growing out of the roof.

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Substation is far more attractive

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The substation does not have a 8' chain link fence around it with grafitti.

Yes, over 10 years, you just got use to it.

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A person should be able to do

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A person should be able to do as they damn well please with their own land.

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Sing it, brother.

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Sing it, brother. That's why I'm buying the plot of land next door to your house, and putting up Massachusetts' first and only all-in-one go-kart-track, skeet shooting range, brothel, methadone clinic, and fireworks emporium. Don't worry, we'll make sure we maintain the 10-foot offset.

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The developer has been

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The developer has been successful in fooling everyone into believing that Zoning code supports a building of this size on that small lot. People were shocked and confused at how the plan made it past review and "complied" with zoning. It seems absurd when you see how the building spans the plot from front to back without the required offset. Zoning prohibits this to prevent exactly this -- a building that is too large for its lot.

It is only due to a manipulation of the zoning laws that could get this massive structure approved.

The building is technically a corner lot. The true address has always been on Centre Street and Zoning prohibits a building this large at this site in this neighborhood. By changing the address to Weld St and calling the short side of the building the "front" allowed a structure 50% larger on the small lot and allowed them to shove the structure up to the property line of the houses on Hazelmere.

Just by changing the designation from the building front from Centre to Weld lets them sneak a building on this space much larger than would be allowed with the proper designation. It circumvents the intended zoning goals and the residents are right to fight this.

The people of Roslindale and W Roxbury set up the zoning and strategic plan for a reason. This developer found a loophole to circumvent what the city planners, residents and zoning intended. That is wrong.

It may be technically legal and out of zoning commission hands. Thankfully it's up to the BRA to oversee the process and we can hope they'll choose what's right and look past any legal slight of hand.

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[never mind]

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I think I misread your original statement. Never mind.

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Inaccurate

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That parcel is zoned as a "neighborhood shopping district" parcel. With that comes the ability to build up to 35 feet high, have the building come right to the sidewalk, and the other things Martell is proposing. The building's mailing address has no impact on that designation whatsoever. If you can point to specific manipulation of the zoning code, I'm all ears but have seen zero evidence of that in the way you're describing. If you're saying the way he has positioned and oriented the building in a way to fit it into the required zoning, well that's how constructing a building works, that's not disception. You don't have to like it, but this parcel was zoned specifically for this kind of building.

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What is the deal with the

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What is the deal with the city giving land to the developer? My understanding is they are moving the curb further into center street and restricting the lane size.

If they are not respecting the set back of the existing curb location, then the city is giving them land.

They said BTD agreed to do this?

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Wha?

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Yeah, that's part of the proposal, but the idea is to do something about the traffic at the intersection (I'm no traffic engineer, so don't ask me exactly how, but moving the median is part of that) - and create a wider sidewalk that will allow for trees.

The actual property lines aren't changing, though - the sidewalk will be city property, same as now, just wider.

Everybody acknowledges the intersection kind of sucks and residents wanted the developer to do his part to fix that, so he did, so I'm not sure why this, of all things, is something to get upset about.

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