What Has Gotten Into The ZBA? It Listened To The Neighborhood This Past Week!

Deferrals, Denied with Prejudice, Denied without Prejudice, Requests For Deferrals. Tuesday was a day that will live in ‘glory’ for South Boston residents, if only for a little while.

The Zoning Board of Appeal rejected a proposal by the owner of 25 Dorchester St. to add a roof deck after nearby residents and elected officials said the last thing they’d want to see at a building with frequent 911 calls about loud parties is a place for outdoor partying.  The owner, who lives on the top floor of the three-family building at the Dorchester Street triple decker at the corner with West 2nd Street, and who may not be the source of the alleged disturbances, had applied for permission to add a 20×25-foot deck for his use only. The mayor’s office and the offices of City Councilors Ed Flynn, Michael Flaherty and Annissa Essaibi George and state Sen. Nick Collins all voiced opposition. “It’s a problem property to the neighbors” because of frequent loud parties, Flynn aide Ana Calderon said. Officials said they have gotten frequent complaints from residents about the near weekly need to call 911 about parties.

Separately, the board rejected proposed three, three-bedroom units in a triple decker that some described its design as a ‘monstrosity’ at 1778 Columbia Rd. after nearby residents and elected officials objected because it would look nothing like the surrounding triple-deckers. The board rejected the proposal after hearing complaints from the City Point Neighborhood Association and elected officials that the modern style of the proposed structure could set a precedent that would lead to the gradual erosion of the three-deckers that now line the street, across from the yacht club. The building would not have violated any Boston zoning regulations related to buildings in general, but needed board approval because of its location in a “greenbelt” district. The board voted 6-1 to reject the proposal without prejudice, which means that Andrew Enright can come back with revised plans. Board member Eric Robinson was the project’s sole supporter. Noting that aside from the greenbelt issue, the building could go up without board approval, he said design issues could be handled through review by BPDA designers, as is standard with many projects approved by the board. “Aesthetics are subjective. Things are built of their time. We don’t build like that anymore.”

Many participants in the well-attended Zoom hearing were pleasantly shocked by the turn of events, although some sensed that other tactics may be used to effectuate the proposals as time goes by during the summer. However diligent neighborhood groups pledged to pay attention and some called out attorneys, developers and architects for their lack of forthright interaction with abutters and the surrounding neighborhood that their projects would affect. Residents are not opposed wholesale but want the courtesy of the developers and owners in being transparent.

On a separate proposal to house a marijuana/cannabis shop on East First Street, that proposal was denied outright without prejudice. A rumor was circulating in the days leading up to the vote that the facility had ties within the acting administration. Prior to the vote being taken the zoning board chair called for a statement from the Mayor’s office and the neighborhood liaison who had been in attendance up to that point was conspicuously absent. The Mayor’s office therefore had no official comment.