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Should JPNC Have Sued ZBA Over 161 S. Huntington?

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court last week to try to block the development planned for 161 S. Huntington Ave.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council is intent on stopping the development at the former site of the Home for Little Wanderers.

JPNC has filed a lawsuit alleging the Boston Zoning Board of Appeal should not have approved necessary variances, which would allow the 169-apartment project to take place.

At a November meeting, JPNC member Joseph Wight said the site at 161 S. Huntington Ave. is going to have 60 or 70 units per acre at a site only zoned for 16.

Originally, JPNC drafted an open letter to the ZBA explaining their displeasure with the process. Now, they’ve taken it a step further.

Do you want to see the development go up as planned, or was JPNC right to file the lawsuit?

patty December 24, 2012 at 01:21 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with the lawsuit. The City Council and Mayor clearly are not interested in the wishes of the neighborhood regarding development. It is disheartening that an institution that provided care for children for over 100 years is slated to be turned into luxury apartments that are not intended for families with children given that most apartments are studios or one bedrooms. The number of proposed apartments is just too large for the space. The added trafffic, congestion and air pollution is simply not justified. I guarantee you that such a develpemnt would never be considered in the Mayor's nieghborhood in Hyde Park. The scale is simply too large and congested.
Michael December 24, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I'm surprised the property wasn't on the National Historic Register. It appears to be architecturally interesting, and the original purpose was philanthropically significant. Perhaps those are irrelevant factors, but be that as it may, I was surprised to hear it was to be razed.
Lilypad26 December 24, 2012 at 02:49 PM
It never should have come to this, with the proper due process and representation. Yes, if the developers, the mayor's office, JP's local reps, the BRA and the ZBA turn a deaf ear to the community, the zoning requirements and common sense, then unfortunately the only recourse is being sued. Opposition would have probably been less extreme if, in the earlier stages of the process the powers at be listened to the majority of the community's concern...too many units, to large a project, not enough parking for that parcel of land. Its great that now the BRA is inviting the community to contribute to the future planning of the So. Huntington Ave area...but the elephant in the room is 161. Yes, a lawsuit is appropriate, necessary and appreciated. Thanks JPNC for your efforts!
Bob December 24, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I think it is a shame that an organization can misrepresent a community so blatantly. The JPNC claims to be the voice of the "community" so they can amplify their voices through a megaphone. If the community is so against this project, produce a lawsuit from a person who actually has legal standing. They can't get anyone who is an actual abutter or in the immediate area to sue. Has anyone considered that they are totally misrepresenting the community? They show up to meetings and yell and scream at the developers and the people who really want to see this in the community are afraid to stand up. Clearly the community wants this when the only lawsuit filed is from an organization with members located miles away. The neighborhood where this project is going is in dire need of investment and development. No developer has touched those properties in over 50 years. If the JPNC is so posed on not having development on South Huntington I'll follow their movement when Day and his friends move closer. Until then, I will continue to support market rate developments on a street full of low income and student housing.
Bob December 24, 2012 at 03:16 PM
And I agree it's a shame they are putting up a new building over the historic Home but the JPNC is clouding that voice with their outrageous demands. Asking the BRA to honor a code that is completely unrealistic is not going to get them to listen to you. If the community had produced one voice about maintaining the current building structure and gut renovating it I'm sure the BRA would have listened. Instead, these outrageous organizations demand 25% affordability (which I don't think is even possible given the developers margins) and 16 units. It is because of organizations like the JPNC that the BRA does not take the community voice seriously.
MarkBoston December 24, 2012 at 06:23 PM
This is wonderful news ! Hoorey for the JPNC . All the meetings with the developers and community members , especially the last one at the school were simply shams . The meetings were held to show that there was a process that the input of the community the project was most affecting... was allowed to have some affect . It was a ruse . The city already had the plans in process and several of our elected officials were given campaign money just as this site was being planned . I for one will never show up at another meeting between residents and city officials and developers . It's clearly fixed before we even get into the room for a First discussion
Norman December 25, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I think it is good but ironic. They seem quite happy with theater and pre-ordained outcomes when they like the project. They are sleeping in a bed that is somewhat of their own making.
Rich P December 27, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Brilliant observation Bob.
Rich P December 27, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Another brilliant point. Since the JPNC is so 'out there' they ( and all of JP for that matter) has no voice downtown. They think we are all socialist loons so they reject all dialogue from here. The whole foods non-troversey set JP apart as a section of Boston with no footing in reality, so any other projects that come up that the JPNC is opposed to, I and I think many others are FOR !
Pat Roberts December 28, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Thanks, Bob.

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