The Zoning Board of Appeal this week approved plans to replace a run-down garage on Belgrade Avenue at Amherst Street in Roslindale with a three-story, eight-unit condo building with ground-floor commercial space.
The garage has long been home to the neighborhood's annual snowplow display, with numerous pickups and other trucks equipped with plows lining Belgrade Avenue across from St. Nectarios for months at a time.
At a hearing on Tuesday, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, who normally likes to dive right into such issues as the number of units and their square footage, started by asking attorney John Pulgini how long his clients, Justin Iontosca of Jamaica Plain and Dan Mangiacotti of Dorchester, had owned the garage.
When he responded maybe six or eight months, Araujo sighed: "Oh, that's a relief!" because it meant she would no longer have to deal with complaints about that plows taking up all the spaces on that side of Belgrade.
Pulgini said all of the condos would have two bedrooms and two bathrooms and would range in size from 1,076 to 1,358 square feet.
The building would have 12 parking spaces, which Pulgini said seemed more than adequate, given the site's short walk to the Needham Line commuter-rail stop and slightly longer walk to Washington Street, where buses go down to Forest Hills. There is also a bus stop right in front of the site for buses coming out of West Roxbury.
But Araujo and one Amherst Street resident said that might not be enough. Referring to the commuter rail, Araujo said, "I'm all for transit-oriented development if the transit is affordable, but I'm not sure that transit is affordable to everybody." The resident said that despite the commuter-rail stop and bus lines, Roslindale is really a driving community and he said he's worried that two bedrooms per unit would mean two cars per unit as well.
Board member Mark Erlich voiced slight concern that the proposed curb cut for the site's new parking was listed as 14 feet wide, compared to the 10 or 12 feet that is more normal. "Right now, the entire lot is basically a curb cut," Pulgini said, adding, however, that the developers will go with whatever BTD recommends.
The board approved the project subject to design review by the BPDA. Araujo said that, with the exception of the residential building on Roberts Street next to the train tracks, developers have been proposing interesting buildings in Roslindale that are "more respectful" to their neighbors than the boxes being dropped into other neighborhoods. "We do not want to see another box dropped into a neighborhood where it's unnecessary," she said.
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