Zoning, Licensing and Construction Committee Report
January 9, 2014
The following applications were reviewed at the ZLC Committee meeting on December 17, 2013, and are scheduled for discussion and vote at NEWRA’s January 9, 2014 meeting:
1 & 2 Hull Street Court, Robert Onessimo, has filed appeals for zoning relief to construct fifth floor additions to the two existing 4-story buildings in Hull Street Court to increase the living spaces of the top floor condominium units. Proposed building height will be at or below 55 feet. The two buildings share a party wall. Plans call for one roof deck to be constructed across both of the buildings with private access from the proposed 1 Hull Street Court duplex. The ZLC Committee requested that the owner be prepared on January 9 to present additional information (including plans) showing the buildings immediately surrounding 1 & 2 Hull Street Court and the possible construction, light, shadow and view impacts. The Committee also requested additional information on the ownership of the top-floor units and when they were purchased by Mr. Onessimo.
123-125 Salem Street, La Galleria 33 Restaurant, Rita Moran has applied to the Licensing Board for a new C.V. 7-Day All-Alcohol Beverages license to replace the existing Wine & Malt Beverages License. The licensed closing time will remain 11:00 PM, 7 days. No other change to the business or business operation is proposed. Ms. Moran stated that there would be no bar, that food would be served with alcohol, and that the license request is in response to customer inquiries for all-alcohol service. In February 2011, NEWRA supported a request for an All-Alcohol Beverage license at La Famiglia Giorgio Restaurant, located across Salem Street at No. 112. La Famiglia has been operating with the All-Alcohol license for nearly three years.
124-126 Salem Street, Collin Yip, is seeking zoning relief to construct a 5-story building that will include nine residential units (condominiums) with restaurant or retail space on the first floor. The building will replace a surface parking lot that accommodated up to 13 vehicles. The plans were originally presented and discussed at NEWRA’s meeting on November 14, 2013. At the January 9 meeting, the owner and project team will respond to several design and programming questions that were raised, including the proposal not to include parking, the visual impact of rooftop head houses providing access to proposed roof decks, the design and dimensions of the front balcony rails and decorative metal grill, the configuration of the first floor facade, and the status of a proposed agreement with the owner of the abutting building at 1 Noyes Place. Mr. Yip recently filed an appeal for zoning relief to allow the building to be constructed in accordance with the plans that have been presented.
NEWRA Letter of “No Objection”
10 Lewis Street, Melina DiPaola, proposes to operate a Spin Bike Studio and ancillary juice/smoothie bar in the first floor and basement space formerly occupied by the Armenis Olive Oil Company. Zoning approval is needed to convert the use of the building from 3 apartments and commercial space to 3 apartments, fitness facility and supplemental juice/smoothie bar. The plans call for a reception area, juice bar and prep kitchen on the first floor and a spin fitness facility with approximately 15 bike stations in the basement. The owner also expects to apply for a C.V. license (for the beverages) and a non-live entertainment license (for recorded music). The plans were presented and discussed at the ZLC Committee meeting on December 17, 2013. No abutter or broader community concern was raised. NEWRA’s Executive Committee subsequently approved the recommendation of the ZLC Committee not to bring this appeal to NEWRA members for vote, and instead to send letters to the Board of Appeal, Licensing Board and Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing, as needed, stating that NEWRA has “no objection.”
New 7-Eleven Store on Hanover Street
On January 6, 2014, NEWRA informed the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) design review staff that it had no further comments on the design of proposed signs at the new 7-Eleven store at 342 Hanover Street, and that it supported a new design that had been revised based in part on NEWRA comments. On January 9, 2014, the BRA issued its approval of the signs, allowing the store to seek Inspectional Services Department permits for installation.
NEWRA comments to the team opening the new store resulted in the removal of additional signs that had been placed in windows and the removal of a 7-11 decal strip along the top and bottom of the windows. The store team also committed not to sell alcohol, to be open from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM (another 7-Eleven store on Hanover Street – different owner – is open 24 hours), and to include a deli, fresh produce and Italian products, similar to the offerings in the former White Hen. NEWRA also commented that the interior lights were too bright and distracting and had an effect on the surrounding streetscape. The store team has offered to investigate whether the interior lights can be toned down, but there is yet no evidence that this has been accomplished.
Major Development Projects
In November and December, 2013, the BRA Board of Directors curtailed public review of the major redevelopment projects at Government Center Garage and Boston Garden (80 Causeway Street) and approved the projects as proposed in advance of a new mayor taking the helm. The projects call for residential, office and hotel towers rising to as high as 528 feet and 600 feet, respectively. Both projects will generate large volumes of additional vehicular traffic and MBTA commuters, but the BRA, Boston Transportation Department and MBTA have yet to address the transportation needs and impacts. The BRA has stated that it is conducting a transportation study (with no apparent public participation or schedule for completion), and otherwise has not responded to any of the concerns raised in NEWRA’s comment letters filed over the past several months and voiced at public meetings, including the community meeting on the Boston Garden Project that was held in the Nazzaro Center on September 16, 2013.
Both projects are now undergoing state environmental review pursuant to the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) and its related public process regulations. In the past, the MEPA process afforded citizens and neighborhood organizations, including NEWRA, considerable influence over the project plans at Battery Wharf and a proposed project for luxury condominiums at 585 Commercial Street, now a public school.
At the BRA Board hearings, the Government Center Garage project and the Boston Garden project were supported by the Mayor, State Representative Aaron Michlewitz and City Councilor Sal LaMattina.