In a split decision, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) denied a request for a special permit and variance for a proposed eight-unit, four-story, market-rate condominium project at 254 Spencer Ave. on Tuesday night.
In a 2-2 vote, ZBA members Arthur Arsenault and Marilyn Vega-Torres voted to okay the project, while members Hugo Perdomo and Joseph Mahoney voted to deny approvals, siding with the recommendation of Planning Director John DePriest.
DePriest stated that the conversion of the existing two-family house to eight units was too large for the site, and that the developers did not meet the hardship requirements to gain approval for the special permit and variances.
While the Planning Department recommended no more than five units on the parcel, a number of neighbors and city officials came out in support of the project Tuesday night, much as they had done last month when the project was approved by the Planning Board.
“I would hate to see these units be abandoned, it is kind of an eyesore right now,” said District 3 City Councillor Joe Perlatonda.
Perlatonda noted that the City has recently approved larger, affordable housing projects, such as at the old Midas site, and that 254 Spencer Ave. sits next to the 34-unit Acadia affordable housing development.
“The neighbors want this, I want this, and I don’t think it should be limited to five units,” said Perlatonda. “It’s a great project, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t want it right now.”
Richard Lynds, the attorney for developer Ricky Beliveau, said the four-story condo building would fit into the neighborhood by serving as a transition from the taller, five-story Acadia development on one side to the triple-deckers on the other side of 254 Spencer Ave.
To make the project work financially, Lynds said Beliveau needs the eight units at market rate. He said Beliveau would be investing $2.5 million into the project, with units selling for about $500,000 each.
“Ricky believes in the City of Chelsea,” said Lynds. “For him to make this type of investment shows where his mind is and where his wallet is.”
As the special permit and variance failed to garner the necessary vote, several of the supporters who attended the meeting voiced their displeasure to the board members and DePriest.
“We are going with what the law is in the books,” said Mahoney.
After the meeting, Lynds said he and Beliveau will regroup to see what their next steps are for 254 Spencer Avenue.
“It’s too early to tell what we will do right now,” he said. “We will look at all of our options.”
Lynds said he was surprised by DePriest’s staunch vocal opposition to the project.
“This was an opportunity for good, market-rate units,” said Lynds.