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Hyde Park residents to get first formal crack at proposal for tree-clearing, suburban-style apartment complex on American Legion Highway

Rendeirng of proposed complex

Rendering by Heffner Architects.

The BPDA holds a meeting tomorrow on a Texas developer's plans for a 270-unit apartment complex with 415 parking spaces on what is now 14 acres of forested hillside next to the Stop & Shop strip mall on American Legion Highway on the Hyde Park/Roslindale line.

In recent weeks, nearby residents have organized to fight the proposal and to urge the city to try to buy the land from its current owner, Jubilee Christian Church, International, of Mattapan. Jubilee, however, has said it will sell only to the Lincoln Property Co., which wants to put up nine low-slung apartment buildings on the land and put down enough asphalt for all those cars.

If the project is built, the church, which once had its own plans for a subdivision on the land, will still own 10 acres on the hillside, which is also the site of a former quarry and a failed, never opened golf driving range and recreation center - which makes up another 18 acres now owned by Eversource.

Residents opposed to the apartment project say it will remove hundreds, possibly thousands of mature trees at a time when trees have come to play an increasingly important role in reducing city temperatures - and that replacing the trees, vernal pools and meadows now on the site will remove a major rain sink and so increase flooding for existing homeowners at the bottom of the hill - as well as remove what has become a preserve for wildlife from small pollinating insects to larger mammals. The project, they say, would also require extensive blasting of ledge and large boulders.

Lincoln says many of the trees are trash species and pretty sickly; opponents dispute that.

If the city were able to strike a deal with Jubilee and buy its entire 24 acres, that alone would increase the amount of basically forested land in the entire city by nearly 14%, Save Crane Ledge Woods organizer Lokita Jackson says.

She adds that the area surrounding Crane Ledge is an "environmental justice" area because a large number of its residents are poor or members of minority groups particularly ill equipped to deal with the consequences of climate change. Although state and city officials have concentrated on the coast line, "we can't just focus on the coastlands," she said.

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Comments

Nothing communicates love like squeezing the teats of land so that it is a cash cow.

How this contributes to Covid. Covid is a natural reaction to unhealthy density. The more people living on top of each other the more likely disease is transmitted.

While this sounds simplistic the various plagues of Europe provide historical evidence. Add the evidence of the appearance of the bubonic plague in India as recent as 1994, and pretty much any endemic or pandemic level of disease, there is very strong evidence that disease follows population density. Add that there appears to be a pattern of the most potentially, and eventually most deadly virus, came out of one of the world's dense nations.

Obviously other conditions contribute. Poor nutrition, poor sanitation, the effects of impoverishment. Yet even in a nation where there is ample calories, plenty of nutritional food at pretty low costs and excellent sanitation, Covid is still running rampant.

Fundamental laws of nature. Diversity of species, continuation of an infinity of diverse species. The existence of life in endless numbers. When one gets out of hand nature slaps back. When Mother Nature spanks the bottom of a species that spanking will hurt.

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Voting closed 17

Just endless sprawl and people living in large single family homes, driving everywhere. No density = no sickness, right? Would probably line up with your John Birch Society thinking too.

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I agree that endless sprawl is bad. Whether destroying this lot or sprawling out to farms that are sold to developers, land is covered, paved and effectively put into long term stasis wherever there are developments.

People living in large single family homes can be seen different ways. How many people? When 10 people live in a large single family home, but still with reasonable amount of room for each person, that is actually better than 1 or 2 people Iiving in a townhouse that is part of an urban or suburban development.

But pulling out non-sequiturs in this discussion, concerning sprawl, large single family homes and driving everywhere is misdirection.

No density = no sickness? Really? Where in the world does that happen? People get sick no matter what. But create the right conditions and lots of people get sick all at the same time.

John Birch. Did you know that the Koch Brothers' father, Fred Koch, was a founding member of the John Birch Society? Where there were four sons, two were apples that fell very close to the tree.

These Koch boys would not be so rich that they can virtually fund an entire political movement of their own if it were not for an endless insatiable appetite for consuming raw resources. An appetite that requires a population that grows to the size of a behemoth, that forces the kinds of density that supports not just pandemics, but also climate change, resource depletion, pollution, to name just a few of the problems created by a population that is unsupportable.

But then where would the wealthy and their heirs be if they could not count on ever expanding appetite for goods and services?

But back to the point. In populations of mammals (including human beings), animals, insects, etc. Nature steps in when things get out of hand.

Nature has its non-destructive ways of keeping populations from becoming dangerously large. Homosexuality and asexuality are excellent examples. But in the laws that all life is subject too there are methods which are not gentle, but are destructive, as in climate disasters, droughts, food deficiencies and disease.

On the other hand perhaps replacing a set of Newton or Brookline mansions with a townhouse complex would be a good solution. At least that way less unspoiled land is sacrificed to our human appetites for building, profit and parking lots.

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Voting closed 13

This will certainly not pass muster with the regulations for preserving open space and tree cover that are coming down at the state level.

That doesn't mean that it can't - just that this won't possibly come close.

Clustering housing is a good idea, but this will not work now or in the future unless some substantial changes are made to its maladaptive structures.

I can see immediately that this complex will add to the runoff burdens on the stormwater system unless there are built in storage tanks - and even then, the runoff should be first mitigated by plantings that are watered and soak up the excess. Stormwater reuse is also possible given the grading - capture it and use it to water the landscaping when it hasn't rained.

That much pavement will also mean that it will retain heat like a mofo - just like the horror of Medford High School, which shows up as cherry red in landsats next to the cool green/blue of the Middlesex Fells.

TL/DR what is shown and proposed is not "substantial landscaping" and needs to be reworked to buffer and reduce the paving impacts, absorb stormwater, and reduce the heat island potential.

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They should require native plantings and minimal grass. Then there's no need to water the lawn - which is such an absurd waste of resources as to be laughable.

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Across the street from other apartments, next to a Stop and Shop and a Walgreens, easy access to public transit, about 30 minutes to South Station on public transit.

Where did someone get the insane idea that people would want to live in this development, especially with the overabundance of housing in Boston.

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Voting closed 46

Setting aside the awful massive tree clearing and reduction of never to return open space (that should be protected), the site plan looks like a cookie cutter apartment complex in Dallas..

The proposed layout is completely car dependent with large parking lots in front of monotonous buildings. There are more than twice the number of parking spaces than is typical or needed.

There is no attempt to recreate a walkable dense urban street grid. Pedestrians coming from ALH must zig zag through the complex on sidewalks designed to fit parking.

Development should be focused on the top of the hill on the already disturbed quarry site, with the rest preserved as open space. Build higher, denser buildings on a smaller footprint, with parking on the ground floor and perhaps below grade.

Hope the City comes back hard on this misguided design.

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Voting closed 40

This makes the 4th or 5th huge multi unit housing proposal for Hyde Park? 500 new residents here. 600 there. In an area that already has gridlock traffic. Call these what they are - projects. Old school housing projects. These proposals would never even be suggested in places like Brookline but it's so easy to saddle less affluent areas with them.

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They cleared land for the Ruskin Road housing, as well as the housing from 40-80 Morton St.

This "green space" is what it is. Uncontrolled vegetation at it best with weeds, ugly trees and invasive bushes and plants. Not to say you couldn't make it nice there, And I'm not the person to say whether or not this vegetation is good or bad for the climate, but it is kind of a wasted space that no one uses.

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One reason that this open space is not used is because it is private property posted with no trespassing signs or sign.

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We need housing, but we also need trees. The obvious solution here would be a tower or other higher-density structure with a garage. Instead, we've got a proposal that looks like it came directly from a Texas R' Us brochure. I'm not going to say woodland should never be cleared for development, but if it's going to be the developers absolutely need to put forward a real, serious, thoughtful proposal that mitigates the harm caused, and this ain't it.

If the church won't sell to the city for fair market value then we should look at eminent domain. Newton saved part of the Webster woods from B.C.'s development plans that way and this situation seems pretty similar.

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As you can guess from my username, I'm from Texas. I lived in complexes like this for decades. They're the opposite of what we need here! There's absolutely nothing good about them.

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