Planning Board Approves Eight Units on Spencer Avenue

The Planning Board has approved plans for an eight-unit, four story condominium building at Spencer and Eastern Avenues, despite concerns from some board members about traffic and the size of the project.

The project at 254 Spencer Ave. will now go before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for several variances, including parking relief. The developer is proposing eight parking spots at the site, where 12 are required by the City.

The developer will tear down the existing two-family house on the 5,000-square-foot lot and replace the home with the market-rate condo units. The units will be about 1,000 square feet each and likely sell for about $500,000 each. The project will abut the larger Acadia affordable housing development.

Although several Planning Board members raised concerns about the size of the project, Mimi Rancatore was the only board member to cast a vote against the project.

Rancatore said she appreciated the look and quality of the new building, “but I think it is just too big.”

While Rancatore said the four-story building would be comparable to the Acadia project, it would be bigger than other homes and buildings in the neighborhood. She said it could create a domino effect, with other developers buying smaller homes and knocking them down to build higher in the area.

City Council President Damali Vidot also said she liked the overall look of the project but was worried it could set a precedent leading to denser development in the neighborhood.

However, a number of residents who live in the neighborhood said they supported the project and questioned why the Planning Board had not taken greater action to stop the larger Acadia and 1005 Webster Avenue projects if they were concerned about traffic and overdevelopment.

“Why give (the developer) a hard time about this when it is the same level as the Acadia,” said neighborhood resident Barbara Richard. “We in the area approve of it.”

The Planning Board approved the project with the condition that the developer look at ways to add some more trees and shrubbery near the front of the building.

“In my opinion, the project will make a nice transition from the Acadia down to the two- and three-story buildings next to it,” said Planning Board Chairman Tuck Willis. “Certainly, what is there now is underutilized and in bad condition, and this building would clean that up.”

•In other business, the Planning Board discussed a proposed zoning amendment from the City Council concerning off-street parking regulations. Under the zoning change, residents of buildings where the developers have sought zoning relief for the number of on-site parking spaces would not be eligible to participate in the City’s off-street sticker parking program.

“This would be a way to encourage development but not further burden the residents who live here,” said Vidot.

But Rancatore said she believes the amendment would be hard to enforce and only encourage illegal parking.

The Council, Planning Board and City officials will meet in the fall to further discuss the parking regulations.

•GreenStar Herbals withdrew its site plan for a retail marijuana facility at 200 Beacham St., but are expected to be back before the Planning Board with a revised plan in July.

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