ZBA Grants Continuance to Developer Through February

December 22, 2017
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By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.

A public hearing on a proposal by the The Neighborhood Developers (TND) to turn the site of the former St. Therese’s Church on Broadway, and several abutting properties, into a new 77-unit, mixed-use, affordable housing project for seniors, with six, market-restricted townhouses and an associated senior medical care facility on site, has been continued until February by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

The extra time will allow the developer to respond to a handful of vocal opponents of the project and re-work the original proposal for the six townhomes.

TND is a Chelsea-based, non-profit housing developer dedicated to developing and managing new affordable housing projects around the North Shore.

While many of those in attendance at the meeting stated that they supported the concept of new affordable housing on the site, the bulk of Monday evening’s hearing was taken up by discussion around the proposal, which several neighbors stated “is too big for the site,” and would create too much impact on the existing neighborhood.

Following the testimony of the developers and their supporters and the neighborhood opponents, some ZBA members seemed more concerned about the proposed inclusion of the six townhomes, which would have been constructed on six separate lots, to allow for clear sale of those properties to income-restricted buyers committed to living in Everett.

However, Board Chair Joseph DeSisto noted that he felt the proposal should have been two separate proposals, because of the different types of projects proposed.

The original proposal had the support of Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Ward Councilor Anthony DiPierro, who represents that ward, State Rep. Joseph McGonagle and State Sen. Sal DiDomenico among others. However, after a short recess and time to talk with representatives of TND, attorney Corey Rhodes asked the ZBA to allow the developer to withdraw without prejudice the portions of the application that related to the townhouses and focus instead just on those variances that would allow the mixed-use building to go forward. Rhodes indicated the developer would come back another time, under a separate application, to address the remaining parcels of land, if needed.

The Board approved Rhodes’ request and took up the matter of the mixed use-building only.

Following additional comment on the project from both proponents and opponents, during which the half-dozen neighbors in attendance again voiced their concern with the size of the proposed mixed-use building, board members Richard Zullo and Michael Dantone offered competing motions, neither of which received a second.

Dantone moved to approve the remaining portions of the variance application, as they regarded only the mixed-use property. Meanwhile, Zullo moved to table the project until the developers could provide more information about how they would move forward with the proposed townhouse project.

Attorney Rhoades then asked the Board to table action on the remaining portion of the project until its meeting in February, favoring a delay of two months to a potential ZBA decision against his client.

The ZBA will continue the hearing on the mixed-use building only at its first meeting in February.

Chair DeSisto made clear that the requests to consider relief for the townhouse project are off the table. If the developer wishes to re-introduce the townhouse or some other option for developing those parcels, which requires zoning relief, they would have to do so under a new application and with two-weeks advertising and notification to abutters as required by state law.