After a sometimes-contentious night that included raised voices, a malfunctioning projector and an egg timer, the Charlestown Neighborhood Council arrived at the conclusion Thursday that it will make no recommendation on the proposed 40 Warren expansion project.
The final vote came down to six council members in favor of the project and six members opposed. Several other members sent their opinions in written form, but the council’s bylaws, according to development committee chairman Mark Rosenshein, only allow the votes of those members present to be counted.
In lieu of making a recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals, said Neighborhood Council Chairman Tom Cunha, the council will draft a letter describing Thursday's meeting and explaining that the council came to no conclusion. The ZBA will next hear the project on Jan. 24.
By Cunha’s estimate, 114 interested parties attended the meeting, some of which he had strong words for.
“You Got Another Shot”
Some of those who opposed the project complained at earlier occasions that they were not properly informed of relevant meetings. Cunha called that a “legitimate beef,” and said that the council worked hard to give the developer and those opposed another chance to come to an agreement.
“You got another shot,” Cunha said, “and you made no deal. You made no change.”
The plans that building owner Vahid Nickpour presented at Thursday’s meeting scaled back the two-floor expansion from its last public presentation. Plans now call for 11 units instead of 14 and larger setbacks of the additional structure from neighboring buildings.
Reduction Not Enough
The project would still stand 23 feet higher than zoning allows, and Brian Graves, an unofficial spokesman for those opposed to the project, said the reduced scale wasn’t enough.
“They could improve the space without going outside the current zoning,” Graves said.
He and others cited a loss of light, view and airflow in addition to parking concerns—all of which could impact their property values, they said—as their reasons for opposing the project.
By Councilman Bill Galvin’s count, 24 community members expressed Graves’ opinion while 17 supported the project.
Several of those in support said they wanted to see the project happen because it would create local union work and because Nickpour had made strong efforts to aid Charlestown’s elderly population.