Seven Roslindale residents today sued the Zoning Board of Appeal and a Dedham developer to block an apartment building on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway that they say would just be far too large for their neighborhood.
The zoning board approved variances for developer Jake Upton's 124-unit apartment building at the old Clay Chevrolet site in July
In their lawsuit, filed in Land Court, five residents of the Belgrade Crossing condos at 345 Belgrade Ave. condos, across what's basically a driveway from the site, a resident who lives off Anawan Avenue and a resident of Rhoda Street, on the other side of the train tracks, say the proposed five-story building would mean "increased traffic that will jeopardize pedestrian and vehicular traffic" along both Belgrade and Anawan avenues, degrade the "environmental conditions" at their properties and just be so densely packed on the site it would be "harmful to its neighbors." How could it not, given that it's roughly two times as tall as allowed by the zoning along Belgrade Avenue - and has two more floors than the three otherwise allowed - they ask.
Finally, contrary to the Board's unsupported finding that granting the requested zoning relief will be in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the Code, the Defendant's Proposed Project will be injurious to the neighborhood and otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.
Also, they charge, there's nothing unusual about the Clay property that would require variances from zoning to build something far larger than anything else along Belgrade Avenue and that Upton could still enjoy "reasonable use of the land" with a smaller building.
At the July hearing, Upton's attorney said the variances were allowed in part because the property actually has a slope, in part because it has no direct neighbors, being surrounded entirely by roads and train tracks.
Upton was originally going to be the designated builder for a new Roxbury Prep charter high school on the site. West Roxbury and some Roslindale residents, however, convinced the BPDA to bottle up in regulatory limbo for more than two years until the school finally gave up and went away in 2021. In contrast, the BPDA approved Upton's apartment plan just six months after he filed it.
During the Roxbury Prep interregnum, residents who organized a supposed Belgrade Avenue neighborhood association said the school was too large for the site and called for housing instead.
Complete complaint (1.6M PDF).
Watch the July hearing: