Hey, there! Log in / Register

Board kills proposal for 14-unit residential building off Paul Gore Street in Jamaica Plain

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to replace three long abandoned garages on Rock Hill Road with a 14-unit residential building after Paul Gore Road residents complained it would make parking on their street more difficult, pose a public-safety hazard, be out of character with the rest of the neighborhood and require new natural-gas hookups.

Matthew Hayes, who owns most of the private Rock Hill Road, along with an active auto-body shop there, had proposed 12 two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units in a four-story building with 26 parking spaces, some at the other end of the short, U-shaped road.

At a hearing this morning, the mayor's office and City Councilor Matt O'Malley spoke in favor of the proposal, which would include two units marketed to people making no more than 70% of the Boston area median income. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council also supported the plan.

One Paul Gore Street resident also spoke in favor, "I've been looking at these derelict buildings for 40 years and I would like to see this go up," he said.

But another Paul Gore resident spoke against, in part due to the extra cars she said it would bring, making it even more difficult for long-time residents to park. She said she's lost 11 pounds due to meals she couldn't eat for fear of not getting a nearby place to park after she goes out shopping.

Other residents also brought up parking as an issue and said the proposal is out of character with the two- and three-family homes in the area.

One resident decried Boston's push to build more housing, saying the city should care more about long-term residents than "providing housing to outsiders who are trying to move to the city." She added that large trucks - including fire vehicles - cannot make easily make the turn onto Rock Hill.

Hayes disputed that point, saying firetrucks have made it onto Rock Hill before. He added that the auto-body shop is fully sprinklered, as the new residential building would be.

The board voted unanimously to deny the variance request, but without prejudice, meaning Hayes can come back with a new proposal within a year. Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo told Hayes that means a proposal significantly different than the one the board rejected.



I'm curious what the zoning allows. Is it only commercial or less dense residential?

Interesting that the court backed it but the board didn't.

Also, did the woman who complained seem wanting for food?


Multifamily Dwelling:Forbidden & Use:AncillaryParking:Conditional

Off-Street Parking Insufficient & Off-Street Parking Design / Maneuverability (Tandem Parking)

Lot Area for Additional Dwelling Units Insufficient, Floor Area Ratio Excessive, Building Height (Feet) Excessive, Building Height (# of Stories) Excessive, Lot Frontage Insufficient, Usable Open Space Insufficient, Side Yard Insufficient & Rear Yard Insufficient)

For what it's worth, Hayes's attorney said the open space was initially adequate under zoning, but that Hayes removed the roof deck and balconies that helped meet the requirements at the request of neighbors.

As for whether that one resident is getting enough to eat, I'm terrible at judging things like that. She didn't seem emaciated, though.


I just read the outcome of the development off Paul Gore. Wow! Perhaps its time the city implemented an ambitious residential parking ordinance- People going hungry due to lack of parking- Try GrubHub- It is super easy to download the APP.

I think the unanimous decision was because of the ZBA being under scrutiny or taking immunity as the "on the take" investigation is ongoing. Lynch was convicted and sentenced to 40 months(only) last week due to influencing the ZBA.

Its time Boston elected an actual planning board not- this Trumpisiam- dictatorship BS process is NOT WORKING for good project/housing. Boston is the ONLY city in North America without a planning board.

Off to get my take-out food on Centre St.

The current zoning is for two 3-deckers.

I went to one of the early meetings regarding this devlopment, in tentative support of what I had been told was a waiver to build 10 units rather than 6. However, in the first meeting, we learned that the proposal was actually for 16 units (I think). I don't know when the number settled on 14.

Briefly, what I gathered was that there had already been quite a bit of back-and-forth between the property owner and some-- not all-- of the abutters.

It is an odd location, with some abutters actually on a sheer cliff overlooking the property (the street is in what used to be a quarry). The cliff is raw rock; the people above the property were concerned that noice would be amplified off the rock face. The property owner's architect had adjusted the design to accommodate their concern (as Adam notes). The property owner claimed that the increase to 16 units would be necessary to offset the design changes.

Some neighbors were very concerned about parking or traffic-- that was not a particularly high concern of mine, so I don't remember as much about that. Both sides had good points on it-- the property owner was willing to create more parking (not difficult, given that he owns an autobody company & a bunch of garages). Neighbors were concerned because traffic has escalated in the years since Whole Foods went in at the top of the street, and one of the new weed shops will be nearby.

In at least the meeting I went to, about a year ago, more people wanted to support the project than wanted to oppose it. However, even those of us who supported it were caught short by the fairly drastic increase in unit numbers, and that the cheapest apartments-- those meeting the "affordable housing" standards-- were already at the higher end of typical rents for Hyde Square, and the rest were, of course, well above.

Personally, I would not object to 16 or 14 units if a real effort was made to set a few of the rents so that they would be affordable to people who are being priced out of the neighborhood. I emailed the developer to see if he wanted to talk about possible ways of alleviating traffic concerns (like putting in a Zipcar for tenants who agreed not to keep cars) and to discuss affordable rents. I never heard back from the developer.

On a final note, I'm not a direct abutter; I live a few streets away. However, I am in favor of smart increases in density. This has potential, but there were certainly valid worries about how it goes in. I hope they get it worked out. Even the original 6 units as zoned would be helpful.

I should point out that the lot in question is less than a 2 minute walk from the JP Whole Foods.


Don't you dare mention that blight upon JP which has single handedly destroyed the neighborhood. - JPNDC probably. What was that clown's name, Ben something? He's probably in on this.

The natural gas hookup is the perfect new NIMBY progressive move. I would bet eleventy million dollars more than a few these complainers have natural gas heat and/or stoves.


I would bet eleventy-million dollars that 100% of those complainers have natural gas heat and/or stoves.


You expect lazy car drivers to walk for two whole minutes? That’s practically a marathon!


I love how Adam always captures the ridiculousness of all ridiculousness at these hearings. You can't make that shit up. I am officially going to become a NIMBY now if only to lose this 11# bulging midriff! I am ashamed to be an American today and associated with someone who complains about something like that!


I see what is causing the parking problem in the neighborhood. I also trust that these long time residents are not also squawking for rent control?

And now I know that since I'm living in a densely populated area where parking is problematical all I have to do is buy and park a car and I'll lose weight..!


These are presumably the "neighborhood character" that is so precious.


She said she's lost 11 pounds due to meals she couldn't eat for fear of not getting a nearby place to park after she goes out shopping.

I've heard some absurdities but this one is topping the list. Does she simply never leave her house? No job? If you're retired, you generally meet the age requirements for Boston's Meals on Wheels program, which delivers to your door. Or is it you can't buy more groceries at once, making one large trip instead of many smaller ones? Clearly it's not an issue of getting it home if she's driving.

What happened is one night she didn't want to go out and pick up takeout because the weather was bad and it'd suck to park a block away and that somehow morphed into starving to death due to grocery loss.

I wish somebody would start questioning these absurd falsehoods.


She and other residents brought up the difficulties elderly people on the street have lugging groceries back to their homes if they have to park on another street.


to ask for handicapped or otherwise restricted parking from the city, not to stop all development that might bring any amount of traffic.


Geesh. I'm not old enough to retire but I am thinking about downsizing and getting a flat where I don't have to climb so many stairs.

There are plenty of elder housing options with parking in the suburbs if your precious car is your only option. Why bother even living in the city?

Plan ahead for old age, people. This is where all the supposed "family housing" has vanished to.


Is that so very hard?


if you have mobility impairments the city will come and install a handicap spot right in front of your house, essentially reserving the spot for you unless your neighborhood has a super high rate of handicap placards


She is full of shit. She should have been booed until she left the building. There are so many stores and restaurants within a few hundred yards of where she lives.


Fortunately, most people have shown grace, even when they have disagreed with the ruling. To be crass, in negotiations or public comments, is a sad reflection on some of the changes in our community. Maybe that is what the woman really lost, not 11 pounds, but the feeling that people cared about their neighbors.

She said she's lost 11 pounds due to meals she couldn't eat for fear of not getting a nearby place to park after she goes out shopping.

Wow. Just....wow. Maybe she's elderly or disabled so it's the only way. But still. If not being able to get convenient parking is really stressing you out that much, you have no business living in a city anymore. This level of nimby-ism is insane.

With almost 2 spaces per unit, some residents of the new building who don't have 2 cars could rent out a spare space to some of these parking-starved long-term residents.

How many existing units in JP have zero or one space?

How many off-street spaces per unit would this development need to satisfy the long-term residents that their good deal on free street parking wouldn't get any worse? 3? 5?

I'm sure everyone here knows this already, but this is the EXACT reason why we have a housing shortage. If multi-unit housing can't get built in JP, where exactly can it get built?

These NIMBYs are out of control. Absolutely unreal. Re-zone the entire city for growth and take decision-making away from these clowns once and for all. The mayor's office and city councilor support this very sensible proposal in the middle of a housing crisis, and yet the ZBA listens to these losers who got already theirs and want everyone else to pound sand. Enough is enough with this.


14 units with 26 parking spaces!
That seems like plenty of parking and street parking should not be affected.


Frankly I hope it motivates the developer to come back with something more ambitious (more units, less parking).


I think the Board is looking for something LESS ambitious.

This is why zoning needs to reflect what is in the best interest of the city. Every new development should not be a fight between existing residents who are more concerned with their access to free public parking vs building much needed housing that our city desperately needs.


Any proposal in danger from rising tides = good.

Any upzoning of places that it won't be an issue = nope.

Boston needs to face the reality and get people away from the danger zones, even if it means turning West Roxbury into Queens.


One resident decried the Boston's push to build more housing, saying the city should care more about long-term residents than "providing housing to outsiders who are trying to move to the city."

The horrible outsiders who are trying to move into the city have probably made this woman a fucking millionaire, and she still feels entitled to tell her neighbors what they can do with their property, AND to prevent anyone else from moving here for a good job.

I try not to angry-post anymore but Jesus Christ.


This is like 3 blocks from Stony Orange Line T and right on multiple bus routes.

JFC the absurdity of NOT building here.


The wacky rantings of aggrieved neighbors are par for the course and I expect nothing else. My question is why does the ZBA not hold these people accountable or do their own due diligence? These arguments with a Whole Foods kitty-corner across Centre are being made in bad faith and that's obvious to any neutral observer.


I can't recall many projects being denied by the ZBA when they are supported by the mayor's office and further backed up by City officials and local civic groups.

Maybe the ghost of (recently retired board member) Anthoni Pissani is still looming over this beacon of impartiality and consistency that is the ZBA? Pissani would often sway the vote, and the closer a project was to his fancy JP Victorian, the more likely it risked being denied because of his vocal opposition. I wouldn't be too surprised if Pissani sent a not-so-subliminal message to the board members ahead of this hearing.

A very similar case happened a year ago:


Classic NIMBY nonsense contributing to the outrageous cost of living


Having limited mobility due to old age must be difficult. Maybe we could increase the quality of public transportation such that would be so good no one would want a car. I know it’s we’ll never be Finland, but let’s stretch and try for developing nation quality public transport, even a tiny improvement would be incredible in Boston.

As others have pointed out, there's literally a grocery store within a couple minutes of this development. Even the world's best public transit system is going to assume you can at least make it a few hundred feet. And again, if people are infirm enough to require cars even for short distances, they should ask the city for handicapped parking, which should alleviate any parking concerns.


Criticisms like the one from this lady feel to me like grasping at straws. She showed up at the meeting with a gut feeling that she wanted to oppose the project and probably came up with this explanation extemporaneously. People like this are never going to be convinced, but they also only represent a tiny minority of voters, which is why this whole process of measuring the number of people who show up to object is fundamentally absurd.

double post

“But another Paul Gore resident spoke against, in part due to the extra cars she said it would bring, making it even more difficult for long-time residents to park. She said she's lost 11 pounds due to meals she couldn't eat for fear of not getting a nearby place to park after she goes out shopping.“