Art Park site lawsuit dismissed

The lawsuit over the proposed Art Park development has been dismissed, but an appeal is likely.

Kathryn and Oscar Brookins filed a lawsuit over the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals’ (ZBA) decision to grant variances for the project in 2014. They claimed in the lawsuit that the ZBA exceeded its authority granting the variances and that they would be aggrieved by the project because of parking, traffic, noise, and property value impacts. The Brookinses own three properties in the area, including one in which they live at.

Judge Judith C. Cutler dismissed the lawsuit on Oct. 18, stating that the Brookinses had failed to show that they are aggrieved by the variance decision, and because of that, they lack the standing to maintain the lawsuit.

“Because I find that the plaintiffs are not aggrieved by the variance decision, their appeal will be dismissed on that basis and I need not, and do not, reach the underlying question of whether the ZBA exceeded its authority in granting the subject variances for the proposed development,” the judge wrote.

Kathryn Brookins said in a phone interview that they plan to file an appeal of the decision soon. They have 30 days to do that from the day the decision was rendered.

The City’s Department of Neighborhood Development and the developer, Sebastian Mariscal Studio (SMS), did not respond to requests for comment. It is unclear if the decision to appeal will deter SMS from moving forward with the project.

The Art Park site is City-owned land between Parker and Terrace Streets that is slated to be redeveloped into community gardens and residential and retail space. The site, which has been fenced off by DND, contains murals, mosaic footpath tiles and colorful furniture, and formerly had community gardens that were operated by local residents.

SMS plans to redevelop the Art Park site into 44 apartments with 10 affordable housing units; 58,000 square feet of green space; and 4,000 square feet of retail space. The site will have 30 parking spaces and 82 bike-parking spaces.

The site will also have community gardens on the roof of the buildings, along with a solar-panel farm towards the Terrace Street side. It is expected to be LEED-certified at “Platinum,” which is the construction industry’s highest energy-efficient rating. The site is slated to produce more energy than it will use.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals both approved the project in 2014 after a two-year community process.

Over the past 15 years, the Brookinses have filed lawsuits against several real estate projects in Mission Hill and the Longwood Medical Area, sometimes gaining settlements, sometimes having the suits tossed out of court. In 2012, they were among the plaintiffs who settled a lawsuit out of court, reportedly for a large sum of money, over zoning approval of Northeastern University’s controversial East Village dorm project.



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