Chelsea Community Takes the Fight to Forbes

September 21, 2018
By

The Chelsea Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting on Sep.11 saw a focused gathering of concerned Chelsea residents fighting against YIHE Forbes, LLC and their new construction proposal, among other Chelsea zoning appeals.

Hosted at the Senior Center across from City Hall, the proposal attracted a larger audience as the ZBA meeting slowly proceeded from appeal to appeal, but more attendants poured in as Forbes’ lawyer Paul Feldman began speaking.

The planned project would be located across the train tracks opposite of Crescent Avenue on Forbes Street, providing only one entrance and exit and limited space for development.

“A $25 million investment doesn’t work on this size of space,” said Feldman in reference to previous 2015 plans that called for a much larger project with skyscrapers and hundreds of housing units.

Returning with a new plan from a similar proposal in 2015, YIHE presented their renewed project for an estimated 18 acre total reconstruction of Forbes Street in Chelsea to provide 630 residential units across roughly 700,000 sq. ft. with a 3-acre reconstructed public waterfront pathway for public use. There are a planned 80 studios, 330 one-bedroom, and 220 two-bedroom apartments to be available.

Feldman estimated that there would be approximately a $1.7 million tax revenue return for Chelsea.

“There are going to be $3 million in building and department fees estimated,” Feldman added.

Those opposed to the developing project also raised concerned criticism at the lack of transparency with the official costs and how exactly the tax revenue will be invested back into local community needs, with residents pointing out a lack of outreach to local schools.

The new plan cuts the 2015 sizing plan to less than half its original size (approx. 1.5 million sq. ft.). However, Chelsea residents continue to express their discontent with the project.

RoseannBongiovanni quickly fired back after Feldman, chief project engineer Richard Salvo, and traffic engineer Jeffrey Dirk completed their respective informational presentations concerning development.

“I’m offended by so much of what you’ve said here tonight,” Bongiovanni began, adding “I can’t go [to the new development] because I have two children. Because you are not family friendly.”

Bongiovanni is not the only concerned Chelsea resident; Crescent Avenue homeowners are worried about future traffic being even more congested, while others see a combination of other problems unfolding.

Among the major issues that locals raised included: an additional estimated 170 cars added to local transit, insufficient emergency egress, lack of community consulting, transparency of project plans, an 80 percent calculated median average income based cost for the proposed studios and apartments, parking, lack of community investment, a very low-height seawall (11 ft.), and the size of the infrastructure.

“Every time the community has raised a concern, it’s fallen on deaf ears,” Bongiovanni stated.

Many residents said they don’t believe a vast majority of the community could even afford to live in the new development, leading to even less of a desire to accept the proposal.

After more than two hours of presentations with strong appeals from both sides, the meeting concluded.

The project will be revisited and decided upon at the Oct. 9 ZBA meeting.

  • CLOSET DRAWS CONTROVERSY

In other matters, a total of nine projects were presented, with three approved by the board and five others continued to either the Planning Board meeting on Sep. 25 or the next Zoning Board meeting on Oct. 9.

A noteworthy case was 34 Beacon St. and Carol Brown’s plans to create an extended closet in very limited space between her property and neighboring 32 Beacon St.

Brown appealed that she retained the right to remodel her property and create the extension, while two neighbors retained that due to flooding problems and snow accumulation on the planned closet, it shouldn’t be allowed.

“We have bent over backwards for these neighbors,” stated Brown.

There seemed to be a neighborhood blame game being thrown back and forth between the three homeowners. Despite Brown’s two neighbors declining to going on record, the tension between the three was palpable.

The project was approved with conditions, especially concerning sitting and freezing water on Brown’s property.

  • TEMPLE ON GARFIELD AVE WITHDRAWS

Of interest, the previous ZBA meeting on Aug.14 had seen TapanChowdhury introduce a project for a Buddhist Temple on 165 Garfield Ave., but the appeal for that project has since been withdrawn.

  • The remaining appeals that were approved had conditions set upon them, while the remainder of the appeals were moved to subsequent meetings due to needed revisions for the project.

The ZBA will be meeting again on October 9 at 6 p.m. in the Senior Center.


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