ZBA Addresses Concerns Over Buddhist Temple in Prattville

The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) met this month on Aug. 14 to hear a full schedule of requests, with a Buddhist Temple slated for Garfield Avenue in Prattville at the top of the list of projects of interest.

Perhaps the most important zoning item to be decided was the construction of a Buddhist temple on a pre-existing one-floor house on 165 Garfield Ave. – across from Pezzi’s Gas. The idea was presented by Tapan Chowdhury, who wishes to create a place of worship for local Buddhists in Chelsea and surrounding areas.

As the presentation for the temple progressed, Angelo Petrozelli, president of Design Partnership Architects, showed the completion of the Buddhist temple constructed atop the one-story house with one residential unit intact, an advantage to both Petrozelli and Chowdhury in the development process.

The building of the Buddhist temple itself is controversial, with Chowdhury admitting that the total congregation would be 30-40 people, and there would only be four weekly congregations, but they would only meet on either Wednesday or Sunday.

Petrozelli made mention of a smaller neon sign that would attract other Buddhist practitioners, and attending viewers made concerned comments concerning how many drivers would be distracted around such a traffic-heavy area.

Offering 10 current parking spaces and 2,300 sq. ft. of green space, the board and Councillor Bob Bishop raised concerns as to the congestion of traffic and parking in the vicinity caused by the new temple.

Chowdhury emphasized that the majority of Buddhists relied more heavily on public transportation than personal vehicles, cutting down on the parking issue. That did still leave lingering questions concerning the practicality, financing, construction, and end-result of the Buddhist temple on the surrounding area.

The matter was continued to Sept. 11.

In total, there were 14 scheduled projects on Aug. 14. The board, led by Chairman John DePriest, and members Janice Tatarka, Arthur Arsenault, Joseph Mahoney, and associate Marilyn Vega-Torres listened to, informed and recommended the next steps of approval or revision regarding each case.

The meeting lasted more than three hours.

Of the 14 intended projects, nine were approved with differing stipulations.

Of particular interest, a Hillside Avenue proposal proved to be a contentious subject that really exemplified the necessity for ZBA meetings. Located on 34 Hillside Ave., Nicole Dunn and Ryan Moran wanted to convert Dunn’s one-family home to a two-family and create a new exit to facilitate her mother’s health-related issues. Initially, the ZBA drafted concerns concerning parking, minimum property size requirements, and maintaining the two-family as family affordable in the future.

However, the proprietor, Costas Boussims took a stand against the conversion of his one-family property to a two-family housing.

“Every property is a single-family, which is why I bought it,” Boussims clarified to those present, echoing the phrase. “The quality of my property, the value of my property.”

Dunn received overwhelming support from those present in the seated crowd concerning issues of parking, but had also come prepared with three letters of local resident support having been submitted to the board in her favor.

The project was approved.

  • In continuance, a proposal presented by Toward Independent Living & Learning, LLC., (TILL) aimed to convert two separate units on the second floor of 35 Nichols St. into an unseparated floor to accommodate patients with mental and physical disabilities. Located next to Our Lady of Grace Church, the zoning board and residents were both quick to point out the prominent issue in creating suitable parking for the increase in residential use.

While the project was approved by the ZBA, it came with the stipulation that a parking variance would be in effect.

“We want to make sure certain parking is addressed [at Nichols and Franklin],” said Councillor Bishop.

  • The projects that were not approved on Aug. 14 were either due to needed revisions, or the zoning board decided they needed to elaborate on their proposals by returning on August 28 for the planning board meeting, or the subsequent zoning board meeting on September 11.

The ZBA will convene again on September 11 at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center.

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