October 27th 2020

ZOOM meeting

Minutes by: Laurie Martinelli, VP SMACA 

 

Number of Attendees: 39 including speakers 

  1. Welcome: Doug Hurley, President:  

Doug opened the meeting by stating that he hoped everyone was safe and holding up with the  pandemic. It’s been 7months since SMACA last met (March 5, 2020) so we are very happy to be  able to come together tonight via ZOOM. Please be patient with us as we try to get the kinks  out since this is our first ZOOM meeting.  

  1. Officer Mike Keaney Police Report:

Officer Keaney reported on several incidents in our neighborhood over the past month  robberies, lewd behavior, gunshots fired on Dracut Street, Drug bust. 

In general Officer Keaney reported crime was way down when the pandemic first began in  March and April but gradually crime rates have been going up. 

  1. Patrick Fandell, Boston Liaison to Dorchester
  • Patrick reported on the City’s response to the pandemic which has been Mayor Walsh’s  #1 concern. Patrick gave COVID updates which are released daily.  

www.boston.gov/COVID 

  • Rental moratorium has been lifted but rental relief is available. 
  • Police Reform Task Force: recommendations made and accepted by Mayor to be  implemented in the next 6 mos. 
  • Election Day: Early voting thru 10/30; check the status of your ballot with Secretary of  State; there are 17 voter boxes throughout the city to drop off your ballot.  

www.Boston.gov/elections

  • ANY QUESTIONS FOR PATRICK: Patrick.Fandell@boston.gov
  1. Developments: Doug reported that Matt Glynn has stepped down as chair of SMACA  Development Committee. We thank him for his several years of service. Mike Folan will step in  as chair.  

Doug reported there are several large developments being proposed in our section of  Dorchester. The SMACA board recently sent a letter to Boston City Councilors and Brian Golden,  Director of Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA, former BRA), expressing SMACA’s  concerns and opposition to these projects. A copy of this letter was included in the ATTACHMENTS  to this meeting notice. 

  1. 1813 Dot Ave/Banton (Near MAHA bldg.): Proposed 28 units, 5 stories, 5 affordable units; no  parking. ON HOLD
  2. 1820 Park Street: Tear down of 2-3 family homes and replaced with 14 condos. No ZBA date  Doug reported this could be a new dangerous precedent – developing double lots with large  backyards into multi unit dwellings. Stay tuned for more details  
  3. 1700 – 1710 King Street; corner of Dot Ave: BPDA??? Public meeting on 10/26 via Zoom.   Developers and their team reviewed their plans to build 25 rental units, 4 stories, 12 parking  spaces. And in the vacant lot across the street on King/Dot Ave. 11 condos, 8 parking spaces. Comments accepted thru 11/6. Email: John Campbell at BPDA: John.Campbell@boston.gov. 
  4. 10 Centre Ave – near gas station at Melville. Converting 3 family house to 6 family house. This  project is supported by abutters; there will be 6 parking spots. Approved by the ZBA. e. 9 Adams Terrace/ off Dix Street: Owner occupied 2 family was converted to 3 family. Approved  by ZBA 
  5. 138 Centre Street: 3 family converted to 6 family. No parking. This project was very  controversial and opposed by SMACA , Fields Corner Civic, Friends of Bill Loesch Park, Codman  Square Civic Association and Melville Park Civics Association. Despite this strong community  opposition, project was approved by ZBA. 
  6. 80-81A Wrentham Street; The vacant lot in the back is being converted to a 2 family home.  SEE DISCUSSION AND VOTE BELOW. 
  7. Response to SMACA letter and comment on development in general by Councilor Michael Flaherty. This long list of proposed development reminds Councilor Flaherty of what was  happening in his neighborhood of S. Boston before they pushed for zoning reform to make  variance requests a rarity. Development slowed down considerably. Councilor talked about the  

need to balance – affordable housing, determining the best location and making variance  requests rare. The most important component, according to Flaherty, is the residents should  be afforded an opportunity for meaningful feedback. 

Q: When someone from SMACA asked Councilor Flaherty for advice on what we can do to curb  development in our neighborhoods, he responded: 

  • Seek rezoning of the neighborhoods; 
  • Direct abutters can go to court and seek an injunction to stop the project; even if they  don’t win, this is a good way for abutters to strengthen their hand on what they want to  see the developers do. 
  1. Comments from other elected officials:
  2. Rep. Dan Hunt’s aid, Evelyn Oliverio spoke about the U Mass Boston Zoom meeting process  the Representative is involved in to develop better ways for remote learning for kids. b. CJ Louis, community liaison from Councilor Campbell’s office spoke about remote learning  for BPS students; police reform and the Civilian Review Board Councilor Campbell and  others are pushing; and the numerous development programs in Dorchester and need for  developers and city to respect residents, and be sensitive to issues around open space,  affordability, density and design.  
  3. Discussion and vote on proposal development at 81-81A Wrentham Street. Speaking for the project:
  • Derek Small, attorney;
  • Eric Rubin, architect;
  • Paulette Whitaker, owner

Attorney Small summarized plan to erect a 2 family dwelling on the vacant lot behind the house  on 81 Wrentham Street. The proposed duplex would each have 3 bedrooms and 3 stories in  height. Attorney Small presented a letter signed by 17 people, claiming they were abutters to  the property and supported the project. 

One abutter’s name and signature was on the letter supporting the project but he said he never  signed the letter and certainly does not support the project. Several other names on the letter  appear not to be abutters. It was noted that seven of the signed names had the same  handwriting, but Ms. Whitaker didn’t address the issue. Several other names on the letter  appear not to be abutters. 

Several abutters spoke AGAINST the project siting the loss of privacy (since many backyards face  this “vacant” backyard), limits to visibility, loss of natural light and open space, the bad  precedent this would create, and cutting of the large tree currently on the property. 

The petitioners’ request as stated in the ZBA refusal letter stated that the existing structure was  to be razed in order to build the two-family dwelling. Attorney Small said that they were not  going to raze the existing house and plan to build the two-family dwelling; thus having 3  buildings instead of the 2 as proposed.  

After a long discussion, the homeowner and her lawyer and architect were asked to leave the  meeting for the vote. 

VOTE. After a discussion, a motion was made to take a vote. The vote was 3 in favor of the  project and 24 opposed.  

  1. New Business

Hayat Iman spoke about a proposed development on 1318 Dot Ave. Hayat lives on Edwin Street; she doesn’t completely oppose the project but she does have concrete suggestions such  as adding more affordable units, and including a NO CAR clause in the lease, since the proposal  doesn’t call for any new parking. Hayat wants SMACA members to sign onto her letter which she  will get to BPDA asap. SMACA board will circulate the letter to its members and people should  respond asap if they want their name added to the letter. 

Sydney Miller asked everyone to get their flu shot now that winter is approaching and COVID is  rampant. 

Meeting adjourned: 8:40 pm 

NEXT MEETING, VIA ZOOM: 11/24/2020

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published this page in Meeting Minutes 2020-11-22 17:02:43 -0500
St. Marks Area Civic Association
The St. Marks Area Civic Association is a group of community conscious residents who want to improve the quality of life in our section of Dorchester. We meet in the lower hall of St, Marks Church, at 1725 Dorchester Ave on the last Tuesday of each month