CAMH supports two projects and opposes another

By Michael Coughlin Jr.

The Community Alliance of Mission Hill (CAMH) had a busy meeting on its hands in November in which votes were held on three projects in the neighborhood, with only two getting the majority of support from members.

The first project up for discussion and a vote was Phase 3 of Parcel 25, which was recently presented at a public meeting hosted by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) back in October.

Ricardo Sanchez, Senior Project Manager for the proponent — Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services (MHNHS) — presented the project that would bring 94 affordable rental housing units to the area.

Initially, Phase 3 of the project was supposed to be a 10-story office building with 185 parking spaces underground. However, that has changed for a number of reasons, according to Sanchez.

Now, MHNHS proposes constructing a six-story residential building with 94 affordable rental housing units and 33 above-grade parking spaces.

In terms of the unit makeup for the project, there are plans for 24 one-bedroom, 55 two-bedroom, and 15 three-bedroom units. Additionally, the units range from below or at 30% to 70% of the area median income (AMI).

After Sanchez went through more site, landscaping, and floor plans, the project was opened for discussion amongst attendees.

One attendee asked how CAMH could help the proponent ensure the project goes through a seamless public process so it can meet deadlines for things like funding opportunities.

Patricia Flaherty, Executive Director of MHNHS, first thanked CAMH for getting the project on the agenda so quickly and explained that the hope is for the project to go before the BPDA Board in December.

She also explained the tight timeline they are working on and mentioned that receiving letters of support from CAMH would be helpful.

“How you all can help is — I know you may be taking this to vote today — getting a letter of support to the BPDA process from CAMH is important,” said Flaherty.

“I know many people wrote individual letters. Also, it would be helpful if people would write a letter of support or CAMH would write a letter of support as part of our application to the state,” she added.

In the end, CAMH supported the project by a vote of 22 to 1, with one voter abstaining.

The next project discussed and subsequently voted on was at 134 Smith Street — the site of the Squealing Pig.

As part of this project, two stories would be added to the existing structure to accommodate four condominium units — two on each new floor.

Moreover, there would be “a revised version” of the Squealing Pig along with two condominium units on the ground floor, according to the Owner, Diarmuid O’Neill, who presented to CAMH.

An attendee asked if the restaurant would be like how it is now but smaller, to which O’Neill said that was correct and also said that there are plans to go all-electric.

In speaking more about changes to the restaurant, O’Neill said, “It’s going to get smaller — we’re downsizing.” He added that there would be less emphasis on fried food, and the liquor license would stay.

Multiple attendees spoke glowingly about O’Neill during the project discussion and supported the proposal.

“I think Diarmuid has shown that he’s been in the neighborhood, he runs a clean operation, respectful operation, and the project is really small,” said one attendee.

“I support the project 100%. Diarmuid’s been in the neighborhood as a good landlord and businessman for over 25 years,” said another attendee.

Eligible CAMH voters supported this project with a vote of 21 to 2.

Finally, attendees at November’s meeting discussed a proposal on 14 Hillside Street. The proposal presented by Attorney Derric Small would confirm the legal occupancy of the building as a three-family dwelling.

Additionally, as part of the proposal, there would be a gut rehab of the building with all new electrical and plumbing, a fire protection system, and an exterior stair replaced with a staircase built indoors.

Small explained that the property has been assessed as a three-family since the 1980s. However, the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) does not have accurate use records for the property.

“In an attempt to pull a permit to do the renovations, the Inspectional Services Department came out, did the inspection, and determined that they didn’t have an accurate certificate of occupancy for the building,” said Small.

“In order to do all of the renovations and to get a proper certificate of occupancy, you have to go through this process,” he added.

Additionally, the project is seeking zoning relief for off-street parking and use violations. However, the property has a driveway and garage, but according to Small, the parking violation is because the city does not recognize tandem spaces as legal spaces.  

Attendees did not seem to be too fond of the proposal. One attendee who said he owns a neighboring property claimed that historically, there had been issues with overgrown greenery and trash at the site.

Other attendees seemed to find it difficult to support the project when the owner did not come before CAMH.

Overall, the proposal was vehemently opposed by CAMH with a vote of 23 to 1, with one voter abstaining.

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