The Zoning Board of Appeals met in the Aldermanic Chambers on Dec. 9 to discuss the petition for a 40B residential/retail development in the Wells Avenue Office Park. The discussion was knee-deep in legal maneuvering based on the City’s Legal Department opinion that the deed restriction on the property (which runs until 2067), is “an interest in land” that the ZBA was advised is not within the ZBA’s authority to waive. A straw vote indicated that the Board agreed not to ignore that advice. I thought we would go home early.  But the law (as I understood it – or, perhaps it was the process) intervened once more. It was argued that not specifying the conditions under which the petition would be granted (absent a deed restriction) would leave the City vulnerable to State imposition of less rigorous conditions. The Board then proceeded to outline the waivers and conditions under which the project could proceed IF the deed restriction were overturned by the HAC or by an appeal to some other judicial body. The first condition imposed was a reduction of the number of units from 334 to 276 and the lowering of the number of floors to be built by one. The Petitioner proposed the 334 unit building and the Planning Department suggested to the ZBA the smaller number. I am unclear as to whether the Planning Department also suggested lowering the number of floors or whether community remarks (sent to the ZBA and made at prior public hearings) were the influencing source for the change. I left as the list of ZBA approved waivers to be granted to the Petitioner was expanding and the clock was approaching 10:00pm. ZBA Chair, Brooke Lipsett, indicated her intention to have the Board finish the deliberations last night, and I assume they did. If that did, indeed, happen, we will now wait for a higher body to determine the legitimacy and usefulness of the deed restriction. Unless Newton reaches a 10% solution or a 1-1/2 % solution first. Stay tuned.


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