The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved Juan Chavez's latest plan to replace his Moreno collision shop with a four-story building with six condos and ground-floor commercial space - and four parking spaces.
Last July, the board rejected his first proposal for his 3,150-square-foot lot in part because it had no parking for residents.
The vote came despite a last-minute flurry of opposition letters from Roslindale Square merchants and customers, who said the proposal would exacerbate existing parking issues in the square, was too tall for the street and would cause traffic issues at the intersection of Washington Street and Bexley Road.
Chavez's attorney, Matt Fitzgerald, responded that the building is on the outskirts of the square and that it is about as transit-oriented as you can get - it's on multiple bus lines to and from Forest Hills and a quarter mile from the Roslindale Village commuter-rail stop, so he doubted all of the building's proposed residents would even have cars.
Supporting the proposal: City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo (Roslindale, Hyde Park and Mattapan), Julia Mejia, Ruthzee Louijeune and Michael Flaherty (all at large).
Two residents spoke against the proposal, calling it just too large for the neighborhood and a congestion generator for an already congested area.
Judith Kummer of Florence Street said the building is taller than the houses on Bexley Road and the businesses along that stretch of Washington Street. "At four stories, this proposed building would tower over the others in the area by at least two stories" and would become a precedent that could eventually make Washington Street "feel like a canyon," she said. She added that one of the reasons she moved to the area was specifically because it was low density.
The board voted 6-1 for the proposal.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, who cast the lone no vote, said that the plan was "marginally better than the last proposal" because it included parking, but said it was still too big for the neighborhood.
As she has with other development proposals of late in both Roslindale Square and Nubian Square, Araujo said small business districts risk becoming choked in traffic as people hunt for a place to park - at least until "people just throw up their hands" and go someplace else.
Referring specifically to Chavez's proposal, she said: "less density is possible."
She said the problem is compounded along the side of Washington Street the building will be on because of the morning bus lane that takes away all the parking between Roslindale Square and Forest Hills.
Fitzgerald, however, said that unlike in the heart of Roslindale Square, he has never had trouble finding a parking space near Chavez's current building, in the dozen or so times he's visited to go over the plans.