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Lot by lot, buildings on Havre Street in East Boston getting taller

The Zoning Board of Appeals yesterday approved a four-story condo building at 194 Havre St., next to the lot where the same family is currently building another four-story building - on a block where most of the other houses are two or three stories.

Joseph Fareta's proposed nine-unit building will replace a single-family house and will be four feet taller than the maximum allowed by the street's zoning.

The building will have eight parking spaces. Attorney Richard Lynds said the first eight buyers of units will get one of the spaces; the last will have to find parking elsewhere.

One neighbor, who bought his house just two months ago, spoke against the proposal, saying the building would be too high - "it's just going to hover above my house."

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Comments

The lack of any consistency with regards to zoning review and approvals is incredibly frustrating. Zoning is in place but once it comes into question anything is possible.

My neighborhood is soon going to be fighting a 5 story, 100 unit proposal where the entire neighborhood is only 3 stories.

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Zoning is implemented in the most conservative way possible, giving resident fire should someone seek a variance, without taking into account city trends.

Variances are commonly sought because the zoning is super restrictive to the point most new structures can be picked and chosen by the BRA and residents.

They've built a scalpel out of what should be city wide regulations providing baseline policy

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If the zoning is restrictive, there should be an open discussion on how it should be changed and then that should be applied. So if the city/BRA wants to increase development in certain areas (Forrest Hills, 'downtown' Roslindale, wherever) they can adjust zoning appropriately to lead to that development. To ask for exceptions all the time just makes it far, far easier for the powers that be to operate in an obscure way that can feel like favoritism and insider dealing.

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There's a lot more room for graft, but this is also what the Residents apparently want (since "no, nothing" is not an option).

They just did that along Dorchester Avenue in SB, but were really only able to do so because it was heavily commercial and the properties abutting it were not seeing the equity gains the rest of the neighborhood sees.

Changing already super restrictive zoning that's been in place in neighborhoods since the 80s, or earlier, is no small feat.

It does need to happen though.

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Just because zoning is restrictive doesn't mean it needs to be fundamentally changed, because many people probably don't think it is.

You are probably right though that more consistency in when zoning exceptions are granted would help.

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To Anon2, I don't really understand what you've written and I wonder if you do. The zoning as laid out is antiquated and inadequate, but instead of reforming it, we just defer to the power brokers - you seem to think that the power is in the hands of the people, but I'd say that's the case only in a few select locations in the city.

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Its a shame the people who lived their didnt fight your 3 story building tooth and nail. After-all, before that building came in and ruined everything, the entire neighborhood was a very respectable 1 story development.

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As if going taller is the only solution / image of "progress".

Everything in the neighborhood is built on virgin land and the earliest remaining structure is 2 stories plus mansard.

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Those buildings should be eight stories.

Don't complain about traffic and then bitch about building heights near transit. Absolutely moronic cognitive dissonance.

Matching current neighborhood should never be a thing.

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"Matching current neighborhood should never be a thing."

Completely wrong, you are basically saying there should be no zoning. You can't guarantee that everyone who lives near these locations will use them anyway.

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Did you ask the native americans about that?

Sorry, but Terra Nullis was a VERY racist policy.

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Irrelevant. Past building does not mean everything new needs to be even taller.

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Or had the previous occupants/first peoples who lived there merely been exterminated and displaced to make it "virgin"?

Your beliefs about height and density being inviolate are specious regardless of what was there before. Cities are not museums. They change with the numbers and needs of their residents and land owners.

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Yes, in fact the street in question is built on reclaimed mudflats, like most of East Boston other than Eagle Hill, Jeffries Point and Orient Heights. There was no housing stock there before the 3-story houses went up.

Of course this doesn't invalidate your point about cities changing with the numbers and needs of their residents. But are you really arguing that cities shouldn't have zoning rules to regulate the height of new construction? If so, note that Paris, Venice, Florence, and a zillion other European cities beg to differ.

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Arguing against OMG NO CHANGING THINGS EVER reactions that defy rationality and declare validity by fiat.

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Boston is absolutely not Florence or Venice. Equating the built environment of Boston with some of the most beautifully historic cities in the world is not really a strong argument.

You can make an argument for a few individual neighborhoods (e.g: Beacon Hill), however East Boston is not one of them. I lived there, and most of the construction in East Boston is really crappy, no matter how old it is.

Also, if you take into account its adjacency to downtown, the fact that Maverick, Airport, and probably even Wood Island are shorter commutes to downtown than Back Bay, and you'll see East Boston is begging for development.

Not to mention that plenty of European cities have introduced height far beyond the "towers" of Boston.

Let's also not forget that most zoning laws in Boston are not up to date, and were set in a time when Boston was experiencing DE-population, not a housing crisis.

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...even the newer, less lovely parts, seems to have pretty strict height regulation (but lots of 5 story, etc. stuff). Big residential towers canbe found in some of the suburbs, however.

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The city is desperately short on housing, as you may have noticed. We need more development like this.

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New housing needs to be reasonable for individual locations, putting this one aside. You aren't going to be able to add housing in every location.

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By the zoning law the owner is allowed to build 4 stories high just like all the new 4 story high buildings all over South Boston same zoning laws apply in 3F -2000 zoning districts of East Boston.

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It's about time East Boston is seeing these massive modern condo buildings not just on 2 way Eastie thoroughfares but Eastie's side streets as well , like Paris Street and Havre Street and Bremen and Orleans streets these are areas that are blocks away from both Maverick and Airport mbta stations two stops away from the North End waterfront/ Quincy market , can't beat it that, the demand is obvious , people want to live in Eastie!!

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Boston neighborhoods such as East Boston are no longer your grandpa's neighborhood of yesteryear, a time when every homeowner had an available parking spot in front of their homes, a time when they can whip out a few chairs on the sidewalk on a hot summers night and chat with the neighbors about a Red Sox game .Longtime Eastie residents were pushing for new development especially on Easties waterfront for many years ,some residents gave up and sold their homes for peanuts and moved north.
Now things are changing for the better, new charter school on Bremen street, hopefully ferry service from Eastie to Boston proper , How can one say no to development, it's an improvement to the neighborhood.

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"neighborhoods such as East Boston are no longer your grandpa's neighborhood of yesteryear, a time when every homeowner had an available parking spot in front of their homes"

Tell that to all the grandpas that have personal handicapped spots in front of their homes all across East Boston.

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I wouldn't want to live anywhere near there, bums urinating on the wooden fence in parking lot, bums shooting up dope (Heroin) all day and all night long right on the on the park bench right across from tunnel just steps away from this development!!! area has gone to shit, area is dangerous at night especially during the summer months!!

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I walk near and around there at all times, including at night, and haven't experienced any of this crime nor danger. Seems like quite the fever dream you're having there.

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