We are hoping for a big North End community turnout at City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m. at room 801 to oppose the current plans for the condo development in the former St. Leonard’s Church Rectory, at 14 N Bennet St. The Zoning Appeals Board has scheduled a vote then on whether or not to approve this project, which violates multiple zoning laws.
The condo proposal from Epsilon Partners includes adding a new fifth floor, open balconies and a roof deck, which are inappropriate for this historic location and which has been rejected by both of our elected neighborhood groups, North End Waterfront Council and North End Waterfront Residents Association. Does the Zoning Appeals Board care what the citizens think? This will be a key test case to see if they only rubber stamp every development that comes along, regardless of its impact on the community.
We need to show that we care about the North End’s quality of life, by telling the Zoning Appeals board on Feb. 25 that this project is not appropriate for this block, which is designated as historically significant by the Massachusetts Historic Commission. In addition to the privacy, density, and historic preservation issues, there are safety questions with the current proposal, as it would eliminate the fire escapes. They have not done a structural analysis to add a new story and roof deck on an old brick building that is unique in the North End because it sits not on solid ground, but rather on top of a warren of underground passages and rooms that link the rectory to St. Leonard’s church.
There are no assurances to back up the developers’ claims that these will be high-end condos, whose owners will respect the privacy of the church and abutting neighbors. The fact that there will be no elevator in the five-story proposed development leads many to believe these condos will end up as rentals, with little control over when and how deck and roof parties may disrupt the church’s sacred gatherings and the abutters’ privacy.
Two petitions have been circulated, signed by over 140 people opposing this project. Please add your own voice by coming in person to the hearing, or writing to the Zoning Appeals Board at:
Board of Appeals
Boston Inspectional Services Department
1010 Massachusetts Ave., 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Ellen Hume, Trustee, Columbus Court, 20 Tileston St.
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