Concerns over devlopment
It is no surprise living in South Boston that residents have concerns over development in this neighborhood. In the last few years, it seems as though every inch of land in Southie is being developed and it’s directly impacting residents’ daily quality of life. Issues from lack of parking, to overcrowded bus stops, to traffic are just some of the concerns but one major issue for residents is the feeling they are not being heard when it comes to the neighborhood being over developed.
Just look at the Kids Before Condos campaign being led by the Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association in opposition to the proposed condo development at the former Gate of Heaven School. Another case that has been getting attention is the mammoth of project that will be built at 45 West Third Street (Between A and B Streets) – with a 105 units and 109 parking spots. This project is being developed by Spaulding and Slye Investments.
This project has recently applied for a PDA which direct abutter Sam Jackson from KO Pies is against.
What is a PDA (From the BRA Website):
A Planned Development Area (PDA) is an overlay zoning district that establishes special zoning controls for large or complex projects. The Zoning Commission may approve a request to establish a PDA where a development that is well-suited to its location cannot be accommodated by the general zoning for the area. For example, a PDA may be appropriate where a development involves a large building, a cluster of buildings, or a mix of uses.
Approval of a PDA requires the submission of a development plan. Development plan submission triggers a 45 day public comment period and requires the approval of both the BRA and the Zoning Commission.
A PDA Development Plan must specify the proposed location, dimensions, and appearance of all buildings located within the PDA, as well as all proposed uses, parking, and landscaping. The Development Plan may provide for uses, dimensions, or parking that deviate from the general zoning for the district. To ensure that these deviations do not unfairly burden the surrounding neighborhood, the Development Plan also must provide for specific public benefits.
Opposed to PDA:
One South Boston small business that will be directly impacted by this project is KO Pies. Located at the corner of A and West Third, KO Pies is a bustling Australian restaurant and catering owned and operated by Sam Jackson. Jackson is fearful of the PDA proposal and potential for developers to circumvent zoning controls. “There is potential that the developer could sell the rights to the project, and/or change the scope of the project once approved, and we would have no recourse to challenge them. It’s the lack of transparency that is concerning,” says Jackson.
The other potential nightmare for KO Pies? According to Jackson, his business will be isolated and closed off for 18-24 months during construction and he believes the developer has done very little to offer support during this process. “We have just come out of the toughest winter ever, and all small businesses are feeling the effects. The idea of being closed off for that amount of time is a very scary proposition.”
We reached out to the BRA (Boston Redevelopment Project) to get their side of this project and the PDA proposal. According to Erico Lopez, Director of Development Review and Policy, the PDA is another another layer of zoning they consider granting to a project of this size and scope. The PDA proposals require an extended public comment period to allow for community input. “We scrutinize such proposals thoroughly and in close conjunction with the impacted community because public feedback is fundamental to the success of our review process. We look forward to addressing concerns and questions from community members at next Wednesday’s public meeting, and we encourage everyone with an interest in the project to attend.”
The community meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 24th at 6:30pm at the Artists for Humanities 100 West Second Street.
A discussion about the project’s future will take place at this meeting. Representatives from the BRA, Spaulding and Slye and Jackson will be in attendance. As for whether Jackson’s concerns will be heard, we’ll let you be the judge.
Jackson remains hopeful that the PDA will not be approved. “I’d just hope that the mayor and the BRA at the very least squash this PDA nonsense and make the developer go through the normal zoning procedures that apply and we end up with 105 more neighbors and KO customers that are just as loyal and supportive as pretty much everyone else in Southie who have supported us since 2010.”
Jackson has launched his own Facebook campaign to stop the PDA – https://www.facebook.com/events/1003931996293036/