The ZBA continued the public hearing on the public-private Veterans’ Home in Chelsea redevelopment project at its meeting on Tuesday night.
“The Board was not expected to have the minimum number of members required to vote on the matter,” stated John DePriest, the city’s land use planning director. “Any vote on a Special Permit requires at least four votes to pass, and at the time the Board was expected to have only three members eligible to vote on the matter. One member was not at the first meeting at which the case was discussed, so could not participate in the case. Another member was absent, and a third was expected to have to leave early, before a vote was taken.”
That would have left only three members able to vote on the case, according to DePriest.
The Veterans’ Home in Chelsea received a positive recommendation on the special permit from the Planning Board last month.
However, there are some city officials and residents who live near the site of what has long been known as the Soldiers’ Home who have concerns about the scope and specifics of the project, including City Council President Leo Robinson.
There will be 241 units throughout the redeveloped property, and representatives of the developer, Pennrose, stated that all 121 veterans currently living on site will be able to remain on the property during construction and will have a place in one of the newly updated units.
There will be centralized social services provided onsite provided by Soldier On, a private nonprofit organization that provides veterans services at similar locations, according to Pennrose.
Pennrose plans on preserving all nine buildings that are on the current Soldiers’ Home site, with the only scheduled demolition set for the one-story incinerator building.
The new construction for the project includes 18 units of townhouses, a two-story cafe and community building, and a new building on the east parcel at the corner of Hillside and Crest Avenue.
Questions raised by some officials and neighbors concern traffic and parking, the lack of green space, and the level of service the veterans will receive once Pennrose takes over management of the development.
In other business on Tuesday night, the ZBA opened a public hearing on a new 2,500-square-foot drive-through restaurant at the shopping plaza at 1100 Revere Beach Parkway.
The restaurant is expected to be a Starbucks, according to Anthony Rossi, the attorney representing the applicants.
Rossi noted that there will be more landscaping and greenspace in the shopping center as a result of the proposal, and that it would be a benefit for the area.
The case will be before the Planning Board for a recommendation and site plan review later this month, then back to the ZBA in December for the special permit. The ZBA vote on the special permit only extends to the drive through, since a restaurant is allowed by right on the property.
The ZBA also opened a public hearing on a special permit for a proposed new tattoo shop at 179 Washington Ave.
That proposal will also be before the Planning Board later this month and the ZBA for a potential vote in December.