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JPNC Pushes Back Against Wanderers Decision

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has sued the city and a developer to try to block a high-end condo development at the former site of the Home for Little Wanderers.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council has responded to a developer’s motion to dismiss the council’s lawsuit, which attempts to block a 196-unit development at 161 S. Huntington Ave., the former site of the Home for Little Wanderers.

In the opposition, filed in Suffolk Superior Court against developer Boston Residential Group and the city Zoning Board of Appeal, the council argues that the defendant’s claim that the council cannot sue because it is not a municipal board is not true.

The document, signed by council chair Benjamin Day and council lawyer and member Jeffrey Wiesner, asserts that, according to the city zoning code, a group that has responsibility for zoning matters can be considered a municipal board and that the council is such a board. Official municipal boards, along with independent parties that would be directly affected by certain decisions, are within their rights to bring lawsuits against the city on zoning matters.

“We think that the JPNC has made a very compelling case that it has standing to bring this appeal,” Wiesner said.

The document, along with an affidavit submitted by the council's longest standing member Michael Reiskind, provides a narrative which describes a longstanding relationship between the council and official city government, and a history of making official zoning approvals and denials in Jamaica Plain since the council was established in 1985.

“…[F]or more than 30 years, the JPNC has performed, and continues to perform, a regular and integral role in the City of Boston's zoning appeal process for the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood District. It is these factors that give the JPNC the status of a ‘municipal board’ within the meaning of the Code and standing to bring this action.  Defendants' Motion must be denied,” the opposition says.

The Boston Zoning Board of Appeal , despite council and other local opposition.

The council drafted an open letter expressing their continued disapproval of the project and, to that point, the approval process.

The council filed the lawsuit to block the approval Dec. 20, 2012 alleging the ZBA acted negligently.

Controversy has surrounded the potential $75-million development, with many community groups arguing the space is too small for the plans as currently constituted.

Michelle Carpenter February 06, 2013 at 08:42 PM
JPNC hasn't posted updated meeting minutes on its site in a year -- last available are Feb. 2012. Back in December, I sent an email requesting the minutes, to which I received no response. JPNC has one of the loud voices in every conversation involving real estate, development, gentrification, and social issues in JP, but they jump through hoops to avoid being transparent. In fact, the organization appears to thrive on its amorphous identity -- a government organization? Maybe! NGO? If that's gonna get us what we want! Great reporting here. I'd love to see & hear more probing about JPNC's lack of transparency. The council is adamant that it stands for JP residents. Its actions suggest that it stands for JP residents, so long as those residents keep quiet if they know what's good for them.
Damian Fabia February 06, 2013 at 08:44 PM
Good lord here we ago again.......reminds me of all of the hoopla around Whole Foods coming into JP. God forbid we have a nice new building that would attract more middle class people into the community and probably be better for the local economy..

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