BRA board to vote on S. Huntington Ave. guidelines

December 11, 2015
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The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) board is slated to vote on the S. Huntington Ave. guidelines on Dec. 10, after the Gazette deadline, and the guidelines are expected to be approved, according to Marie Mercurio of the BRA.

The BRA had an “open house” to share the guidelines with the community at the Hennigan School on Nov. 19. The feedback received was mostly in support of the guidelines, which are supposed to address the types of developments preferred by the community for the S. Huntington Ave. corridor. The guidelines will be used by the BRA on pending and future projects.

One recommendation that the guidelines include is to expand ground floor use. That will allow for developing buildings with a larger variety of uses—such as dry cleaning, restaurants, coffee shops—in an attempt to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

The guidelines will be codified if the BRA board approves them on Dec. 10 and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approves them in January. The guidelines are currently seen as recommendations, but they will become legal zoning requirements if they are approved.

“I think it should go fine,” said Mercurio, speaking of the upcoming BRA board meeting.

She said the BRA had a good turnout at the open house because many people were interested in the process due to projects such as the recently-completed 161 S. Huntington Ave. development and the recently-proposed Goddard House development.

The BRA held a four-month process of coming up with the requirements, which came at residents’ requests due to controversial developments at 161 and 105A S. Huntington Ave.

She said she didn’t get any pushback at the open house about the guidelines, except for comments on the issue of affordable housing, which she says cannot be written into zoning.

“I think a lot of people in JP want [affordable housing] baked into the zoning, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” she said.

The Dec. 10 meeting will be open to the public to witness, but will not be open to public testimony. Depending on the results, the next step would a ZBA hearing in January. That would be open to public testimony, and would be the last chance the public can comment on the guidelines.

If the ZBA approves the guidelines, the mayor will have 10 days to sign them into effect. If he signs the guidelines, they will become an amendment to local zoning in Mission Hill and Jamaica Plain.

For more information about the guidelines, visit bit.ly/1P9Vglg.

 

 

 

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