Neighbors in the Mill Hill area have come out strongly against a 60-unit affordable housing rental building proposed by TND on the site of the French Club, and they will hold a community meeting at the Burke Complex on Monday.
The community meeting is in response to a major upheaval by the neighborhood that started at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting last Tuesday night, June 9. Several neighbors showed up at the meeting to voice displeasure with the project, which was announced in the paper on April 9.
The frustrations continued at Monday night’s City Council meeting when two neighbors appeared and spoke during the Public Speaking portion of the meeting – both in opposition to the TND proposal.
That has led to a petition drive that includes neighbors as well as parents who use the former Spencer Avenue extension as a drop off location for the Burke School Complex. That portion of the street was discontinued in early May by the City Council without complaint and reverted to TND, which owns property on both sides of the extension. TND owns the French Club and the parking lot.
The community meeting will take place on Monday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. just prior to the Planning Board meeting on the project that will take place in City Hall on Tuesday, June 23.
Neighbors said they planned to attend both.
Councillor Matt Frank, who has voiced preliminary support for the project, said he would attend and felt it was important to hear what neighbors are thinking.
“Obviously, there are a lot of resident in the neighborhood with a lot of concerns,” he said. “My philosophy is if there are concerns, people need to be able to discuss them. My hope is the project can be put back so residents can have this meeting and discuss the concerns…This could also be an opportunity to discuss pick up and drop off and general traffic flow around the school during key times of the day. Nevertheless, it has been great to see the engagement because many of those who had concerns are folks I’ve never heard from before.”
Neighbors told the Record that they were particularly bothered by a few things, but in particular the fact that the project would be rental apartments.
They said that the projects touts the ability to stabilize the neighborhood, but residents said their neighborhood is already stable and contains mostly homeowners. They said they would be more apt to support a project that contained ownership opportunities, even it if were low-income or moderate-income condominiums.
Another neighbor said that a small group was considering legal options and felt that the discontinuation of the streets was not noticed properly and might be illegal.
They also had qualms with the overlay district, known as the RPOD, passed in April for the area, a zoning change that allows for more dense development such as the TND proposal.
Another point of contention is that the Spencer Avenue extension is a major thoroughfare for the neighborhood in getting to Broadway. Residents of the area use the extension to go up Spencer and eventually connect with Broadway. Without the extension, that long-standing traffic pattern has been cut off, they said.