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Globe names developer and project in zoning bribery case

The Globe has the details on the 2017 vote involving a project on H Street in South Boston that have led to federal bribery charges against a BPDA official. Still a mystery: The zoning-board member John Lynch allegedly talked to in exchange for money.

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The brief video hearing of that case (a couple of minutes) is available at this link: https://youtu.be/A3-M8OtVXC8?t=426

For those of us who are enjoy ZBA soap-opera, the cast is worth noting:

-The lawyer is George Morancy who represents dozens of developers /year in front of the ZBA.

- The architect on the project is James Christopher. James is the architect of some questionable developers, and the son of (recently replaced) Inspectional Services Department Director William “Buddy” Christopher. James got himself into a bit of hot water recently. To the surprise and dismay of neighbors, some projects his firm was handling that appeared to be non-zoning compliant managed to fly through the process. Inspectional Services is the party that decides which project meets zoning code, and a project that meets zoning requirements doesn't need to go to ZBA. That story was told a year ago here:


Then make the laws stronger against these enemies of the people.


Other interesting fact: The number of units was reduced from 12 to 11. It’s very unusual for a project that was already approved to reduce the number of units. Morancy also says “the number of affordable units was renegotiated”. This was very likely done to reduce the number of required affordable unit from 2 to 1. The typically required ratio of affordable units required is 13%. 13% of 12 units = 1.56. 13% of 11 units = 1.43. It gets rounded up or down to the nearest number. A $50k bribe to get rid of one affordable unit doesn't make ethical sense, but it makes plenty of financial sense for the developer. I suspect the requested changes and delays had a lot more to do with that than the "mysterious underground oil tank".

This is how the number of required affordable units is calculated:

These ZBA board hearings are packed with people representing the interest of the real estate industry and those who want to "preserve the character of the neighborhood". Almost all of them are long time home-owners and over the age of 50. There is hardly ever anyone speaking on behalf of the ever growing population who can't afford to live in the City.


Why not require the developer to "pay in" for fractional units? There's an ability to buy out of affordable. So if the development requires 1.43, make 'em build one (or more!) and then if they only build one, make them buy into the fund for the 0.43.

Sure, we'd rather have two, but the requirement is only one now (for the 1.43), and affordable housing takes money to work, not just developed units.

Stop extorting developers for payments that win political points but just end up raising the cost of housing.


There is hardly ever anyone speaking on behalf of the ever growing population who can't afford to live in the City.

This right here is the issue. So many of the people critical of the zoning decisions and crying foul here are doing so because they are NIMBYs and don't want new housing built near them. Corruption of course must be dealt with at all levels. But there are a lot of crocodile tears coming forth now from the people who rant and rave about "overdevelopment" and don't understand how backwards our zoning code is and how desperately this city needs housing. I hope this does not become an excuse to make it even harder to build housing here.


Well, jpfella, we have an ongoing case in Jamaica Plain with a guy who owns at least 10 properties & is violating residential zoning by using many of them commercially, therefore reducing our small housing stock.

Maybe if we had folks complying with the best of the zoning laws (like having residential-use-only zoning on residential streets), & then we adjusted the worst of zonings regs (eg unecessarily high parking requirements in developments less than 5 blocks from a T stop) we could get somewhere.


I would urge everyone to read the linked Banner article provided by dvg. I didn't know Buddy's son and Buddy are apparently knee deep in a corrupt system that demands a rigorous process and adherence to regulations for some and secret approval without community input for others. Based on events in my own neighborhood in Dorchester, I have long suspected that some members of ISD and BPDA are corrupt. Why are some variances subject to public hearings and some just happen with zero community notification?

In my neighborhood, 2 houses zoned as 2 family have each been illegally converted to 4 family houses, with additional egresses and additional electric service boxes on the outside of the houses. Several of us have called and written our city councilor and ISD. I wrote a letter directly to Buddy. Some neighbors filed 311 complaints (that are still classified as open) .None of it mattered.

This Lynch guilty plea is the tip of the iceberg. And all of it leads back to the mayors office.

I hope that Uhub and other outlets continue to expose and report this situation.


The zoning board rejected his proposal for two houses on what would have been too-small lots in West Roxbury.

If you are on a Board and ask any of these questions you get shouted down and ultimately repaced. My experience is Nobody wants to rock the swag boat.

It’s flawed and has been going on for years. It’s public record on who all the players are. The same developers, the same lawyers. Why had it taken this long and where do we go from here?


In a corrupt system?

Every developer, builder, and home owner doesnt think of what process applies to them or how to navigate it.

They see if they know anyone related to someone in City Hall. Talk to the cousin of the nephew of the lawyer who EVERYONE uses and make sure he gets you the Inspector who EVERYONE knows.

You must be corrupt to build in this town, it's the only way to do business.

We applied for a simple variance recently (to add a handicapped-accessible bedroom) and it took us 6 months to get it. To get it we had to travel to 1010 seven or eight times to get a question answered and to attend our ‘hearing.’ We called our assigned ‘handler’ many times but he NEVER returned a phone call, not once.

(Funny thing is, when we went to 1010, we were often told that we should have called our handler instead of coming in.)

The inspections never happened when we had them scheduled, which cost our contractor, electrician and plumber untold lost hours. Many of the visits were canceled without prior notice, and some were just canceled, we think, because we never heard one way or another.

1010 is a dysfunctional labyrinth of non-answers and non-responsiveness. Once we had to go down to 1010 to get an answer in writing so we could proceed to the next step in the variance process. When we got there, we were told that that they’d mail the document later as their printer was not working. We waited until they found another printer.

The cost for the simple 6-month process was approximately $700 and all we got was aggravation.


I called ISD several times to get a simple question answered. No one returned the call over 2 weeks. I contacted my City Councilor's office. That got an answer from ISD.

City government: Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Just figure out how to make the right squeaks.

That may have worked for you, but it doesn’t justify their routine practice of ignoring people who pay their salary and pay for the permit. We shouldn’t have to rely on City Councilors to get the city to do its job. BTW, we did make calls to a variety of people: neighbors who have connections, the mayor’s community representative, and a field supervisor, who told us he worked closely with the ‘handler’ who worked with us. The handler didn’t give a shit, one way or another: He still didn’t return a call. Frankly, it shouldn’t be this hard.

As a lifelong resident I am very interested in this case. Having witnessed the transformation of our neighborhood by monied interests, I can't help but wonder just how far back this corruption goes?

I wonder how deep this sort of thing is ingrained in the whole zoning, development process? I believe that this is just the start of this (and possibly other) scandal(s). Unfortunately, it's too late for our neighborhood. Maybe others from different parts of the city will see this and use this to defend against the overdevelopement that occurred in South Boston.

Lastly, I hope that the 'book is thrown' at any and all involved. They deserve every second of whatever sentence they get.


And there is no more project info at the BPDA website. All docs are taken down. Gotta love 'em! They try so hard to right their ship but it's just a bunch of front office deals with "downstairs".


Why was the MA Attorney General MIA on this? Why is it the feds have to be the only entity investigating corruption in this state?


So her leftwing creds look good when she runs for higher office.


Labor day was once Mayor Marty's favorite holiday. Today is the start of a very bad week for his honor. The Feds are on the move and the Globe is on the attack. Lynch is talking so city hall cronies and friends of the mayor are playing lets make a deal with prosecutors.
The Herald crucifies him today and the police unions are mad as hell that they are being blamed for the straight pride circus. Tomorrow the MBTA and school buses will be so screwed up and unsafe that parents in the city will demand he be charged with child abuse.


They're being blamed for physically attacking and pepper-spraying non-violent counter protestors not for the rally.

Sure, Marty put them in the position to make the wrong decisions by approving this boondoggle and of course, Marty also decided we needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars promoting white supremacists, but these goons were the ones who decided to hit people first and ask questions later. What a bunch of snowflakes. I'm sure some are already out on disability from their big day out.

For those of us without a Globe subscription, are you constrained from publishing the developer's name?


His name is Steven Turner.


If you are interested in what the Globe paid a reporter to do, how about paying them? $2.50 at your corner store would have helped the cause.

But for reasons unknown to me my online access doesn't work.

Yet didn’t read the article?