A developer's proposal to replace the old Folsom Funeral Home at 59-63 Belgrade Ave. with a four-story, 31-unit apartment building won a go-ahead today from the Zoning Board of Appeal, which approved it 6-1.
Board member Joe Ruggiero cast the lone no vote, but did not say why.
Developer Michael Forde's plans for the roughly 13,000-square-foot site call for 23 parking spaces. At the board's hearing on the plans, one resident said that was too much parking for a building a short walk from the Roslindale Village commuter-rail stop and several bus lines, while other residents said it was not enough for a street they say already has parking problems, next to a commercial district that just had a number of spots removed by a BTD/MBTA street redo.
Forde said that his project does not include the old funeral home's parking lot across Belgrade Avenue. He said the Cooperative Bank bought that parcel separately and is currently using it to augment its own parking lot, also across Belgrade.
Six of the units, or 20% in total, compared to the city requirement of 13%, will be rented as affordable - four to people making no more than 70% of the Boston area median income, two to people making no more than 100% of it.
Although she voted for the project, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo expressed concern about the impact on residents of the new building of having raised commuter-rail tracks running right behind it - Forde's plans show just a ten-foot separation between the new building's parcel and the MBTA's right of way.
One thing Araujo did not want to consider, though, was the building's closeness to the train station as a reason to vote for it. After Alan Wright of Birch Street said that was one reason he supported the proposal, she said she does not see proximity to a commuter-rail stop as a reason to support a housing project because commuter rail is expensive enough that cost is high enough that it is "beyond the reach of some residents with limited incomes." Wright said the building would also be a short walk to stops on numerous bus lines.
Although some residents said they supported the project because it would mean more business for the coffeehouses, restaurants and other stores of Roslindale Square, Laurie Radwin said many of those businesses opposed the proposal. She said the recent redesign of the streets and bus stops in the Square cost them a total of 31 street spaces and that the way part of the municipal lot on Taft Hill is now set aside for Covid-19 testing has cost even more.
A Belgrade Avenue resident pointed to what she said were existing problems along Belgrade for residents trying to park - or walk across the busy street. "If anything, you should reduce the units and increase the parking spaces," she told the board.
City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo (Roslindale, Hyde Park, Mattapan) and Michael Flaherty and Ruthzee Louijeune (at large) supported the proposal.
The BPDA board approved the proposal in June.
59-63 Belgrade Ave. filings.