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With union carpenters on board, zoning board approves West Roxbury building it rejected in April

The Zoning Board of Appeals today approved a local landlord's plans to replace a derelict factory building on Lagrange Street with a 40-unit condo building.

The main changes in the project, which the board rejected in April were a shift in the driveway location away from the Needham Line bridge and owner Michael Argiros's decision to hire local construction workers to put up the three-story building, rather than having the bulk of the building built in a factory and then assembled on site.

It was the modular nature of the construction near Centre Street that angered at least one zoning-board member last time. He voted in favor today, after a representative of the local carpenter's union testified in support of the wood-frame proposal.

A series of Centre Street business people told the board they approved the project because it would bring new vitality to the quieter end of Centre Street. Mayor Walsh's office also supported the project. Two out of towners said they wanted to move back into the city, West Roxbury in particular, but have been stymied by the lack of condos.

But a number of residents - and aides to city councilors Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), Michael Flaherty (at large) and Annissa Essaibi-George (at large) urged another denial.

The project, they said, was too big, would cast too much of a shadow on the neighboring historical burying ground and would cause traffic problems on an already congested street.

And they predicted parking problems on nearby side streets. They said unit owners assigned to one of a number of elevator parking spaces wouldn't want to bother with that and would instead park on the street.

Residents said they were shocked that Argiros came back with basically the same plan the board had rejected in April.

"Let's find the right solution, not the first and easiest one," John Cardarelli said.

Jim Cahill, who opposed the project, said he had attended all of the numerous neighborhood meetings on it since it was first proposed in 2014, said he had never seen any of the business owners and out-of-towners who testified today at those meetings.

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Comments

Ain't it nice that the Board totally ignored all of the legitimate concens of the abutters and Said it was ok because they will move a driveway and hire UNION workers because that's what the Mayor wants. MARTY better wake up to the fact that he is supposed to represent the people in the city not the unions or he will be a one termer.

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MARTY better wake up to the fact that he is supposed to represent the people in the city not the unions

Marty is a union puppet and will make decisions that negatively impact Boston residents just so his union pals can stay employed.

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To that list too.

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He's opposed this project pretty much from the beginning.

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In the end, the protestors to this project didn't care about housing costs, parking, suitability or size - they only cared about getting the right people paid.

What would Boston be without parochial cronyism? Probably a cheaper place to live I guess.

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The Zoning Board members who opposed may fall into that category.

But the neighborhood residents are genuinely opposed to the project, for better or for worse.

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if you think this is remotely a boston issue. i was a project coordinator managing projects in about half the states in the country and this shit is the same just about everywhere.

it doesnt make it particularly good nor beneficial but lets not pretend that we have the market cornered on any sort of this shit, mmk?

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Reasons that people on a board object to something might be different than the reasons small owners and residents near projects don't approve. A lot of developers take the position that local concerns don't really matter and that any local opposition is unreasonable because they want to make money.

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and i tend to side more with developers on this, even now.

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People who live there disagree because they have different interests than profit.

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Generally it is because local opposition is pretty unreasonable.

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People have different opinions about what is reasonable, especially when there's a profit behind it.

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When I sold my parents' home in another state, the input of the locals started and ended with the zoning. Had the new owner decided to tear down the house and put in four condos, they could.

They got to weigh in if there was a variance, but there weren't usually variances because rezoning took place before resale and reuse. Even then, the locals usually don't say much because they had their say. They aren't allowed to demand toys and budgets and assistants, etc.

The area had been downzoned due to resident input. But locals have no right to whine about or stall or hold up or beg for goodies regarding conforming projects.

I think that makes things much more clear: get it rezoned, or STFU.

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A SINGLE BOARD MEMBER asked for the builder to use Union labor, not the neighbors opposing it.

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The article clearly stated that many who are not on the board are still opposed to it based on size and other concerns. They are pretty standard comments.

It's interesting how many of the proponents had only showed up this time, and not the many other meetings, according to the article.

No, it wouldn't be cheaper.

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No they were used to get the payoffs to the right people.

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What is an "elevator parking space"?

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Probably have to take an lift to reach the below grade parking. Site probably doesn't have enough room for a drive down ramp.

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Adam, second line 40 unit?, not "40 union."

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Yes, it's a 40-UNIT building. Of all the dumb mistakes to make. Fixed.

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there's another story like this over a Dunkin Donuts -

A community tried to deny building the DD for a better project on city-owned land. DD filled the room with DD employees to 'support' the project. The DD project is approved as the community voice is drowned out.

is there any end to the corrupt process?

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They were not opposed to development of the property, but felt that 40 new units at that location was more than the area could handle.

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were they comfortable with

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They were probably fine with some number less than the number proposed. There weren't large numbers of people saying that they wanted nothing there, but suggested that number was too many for the area.

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Numbers? Statistics?

or just OMG!!!TOOMANY!!!?

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Based on being residents of the area, and that's plenty reason enough for a lot of people.

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The project, they said, was too big, would cast too much of a shadow on the neighboring historical burying ground

They won't mind. They're dead.

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Maybe they're worried about a plague of undead rising, which can only be stopped by the high noon sun hitting the gravestones? This is probably the single flimsiest pretense I've ever seen for some good old-fashioned NIMBYing.

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But that the burying ground is a historic landmark.

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And it already has a lot trees and shade - which is what a shadow is anyways, isn't it? Besides a 3 story building situated more east-west than north-south isn't throwing that bad of a shadow.

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...from my umpteenth floor office window overlooking the Old South Meeting House and Old State House down below.

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On the merits the project seems fine especially since the existing site is such a hell hole. But not sure this is the best look for the Zoning Board to deep-six a project and then approve basically the same project months later just because they bent to union demands. Isn't the administration already in enough hot water over this kind of stuff?

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Isn't the administration already in enough hot water over this kind of stuff?
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not with the unions he isnt haha

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not enough parking.

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Who cares which carpenters are hired? It's private money, right? It's not like my tax dollars are being wasted on this. Why does everybody want to bash a working stiff anyway, union or not? I feel like it's all a game being played on the American worker; pit us against each other and then see what happens.

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The decision on whether to use union or non-union labor should be made between a developer, the contractors, labor, and the project's funders. I'm totally on board with labor advocating for a project to use their services, but against holding a building's zoning approval hostage over it. Which labor arrangement the developer chooses is far outside the realm for what zoning should be used for.

I'm doubly against it when a member of the zoning board of appeals is a leader with the New England council of carpenters. His perspective on construction would certainly be valuable on any development-related government body, but it looks like he is using his position to extract favors.

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Seems like a good addition - 2 spots per tenant is maybe a bit much, but transportation around there isn't that great either - other than rush hour with the commuter rail, which still isn't great. Glad it got approved, but, thinking about it more, it seem a shame that they didn't bring it to the street/corner for a real street wall with ground floor commercial (or offices).

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Given that Boston is a union stranglehold stronghold, how does anyone get away with it at all? In particular, I'm thinking of Belgrade Place, the luxury apartment complex on Belgrade near Roche Brothers.

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