Neighbors Stage 11th-Hour Fight Against Warren St. Project
Neighbors are trying to block a proposal that would add two floors to 40 Warren St. They say they weren't notified about the project early on by city or neighborhood leaders.
When Brian Graves bought his Winthrop Street condominium a little more than a year ago, part of the value was the view: from his rooftop deck he can see the North Church, the top of the clock tower and a bit of the USS Constitution. Nice, open and south facing.
But if a proposal to add two floors and a head house to the garage at 40 Warren St. wins final approval from the city next month, Graves' view will be seriously diminished. Several other residents within the vicinity will lose their views as well, and for those on lower floors, there's a good chance the amount of light coming into their units will be diminished.
That's why a group of residents who live near the 40 Warren St. property are getting organized to attend a Neighborhood Council meeting tonight (Tuesday) and a Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Dec. 6. They have one objective, says Graves, a spokesman for the group: "to stop this project from happening." Why? To preserve the value of their own properties.
The trouble is the 40 Warren St. project is already well on its way to happening.
40 Warren St. approval so far
Vahid Nickpour of Andover announced plans last fall to "spruce up" the parking garage and office space on Warren Street. He wants to add two floors to the building (bringing it to 67 feet), create street-level commercial space and 14 residential units in the property. You can read more about the proposal here on Patch.
In Charlestown, the city has an agreement whereby the Neighborhood Council acts as the "impact advisory group" or IAG for all construction projects. Which is to say, the council evaluates whether a proposal like 40 Warren St. adheres to zoning law and looks at the effect a project would have on abutters.
As part of the IAG process, the Charlestown Neighborhood Council hosted a joint meeting with the Boston Redevelopment Authority for 40 Warren St. on Oct. 26. It was advertised in the Patriot-Bridge and neighbors were welcome to attend, ask questions and raise concerns. (Patch never received notification of the meeting.)
According to Mark Rosenshein, who heads the development committee on the Neighborhood Council, 17 people turned out for that meeting and 15 of them were in favor of the project. Following that, as well as other analysis, the Neighborhood Council submitted a letter to the city in support of the 40 Warren St. project.
The BRA has since given a green light to the work and all that stands in the way is a final design review meeting tonight with the Neighborhood Council (at 7 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus) and a Dec. 6 vote by the city's Zoning Board.
"I feel really badly for these folks for not showing up at the Oct. 26 meeting," Rosenshein told Patch. "They're not going to feel like their voice is being properly heard."
Rosenshein acknowledged the 40 Warren St. proposal is "close to being a done deal." He didn't anticipate taking another vote on the project at tonight's meeting, but said that if a large group of people in opposition turn out, "it means something. I'm just not sure what yet."
Opposition getting organized
Graves said his group represents about 20 abutters and other neighbors to 40 Warren St. They've put together a petition and a nearby condo association has passed a resolution that will be presented to the Zoning Board and Neighborhood Council.
Neighbors don't feel that they were adequately notified about the project or the review process. Putting a notice in the Patriot-Bridge, Graves said, is not enough.
"It's become clear that notification has been a problem," he said.
He just hopes the Neighborhood Council and Zoning Board will recognize that and give the community time to resolve it.
To get involved
If you're a neighbor interested in the impact on property values or local traffic, you can get involved in the group by contacting Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also attend tonight's meeting at the Knights of Columbus, which starts at 7 p.m. The Zoning Board meeting is at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 6 at 1010 Mass. Ave.