Public Hearings this Month

Dear Neighbors,

Below is some background and factual information about a set of warrant articles that will come before Town Meeting on 11/14/2017. They describe a development plan for Hancock Village that includes addition of units, roads, and parking in an alternative configuration to the approved 40B (affordable housing law) plan plus a 40B proposal that has been submitted. These can be found here:

http://www.brooklinema.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/12692
           (map on page 34)

http://www.brooklinema.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/12691
           (explanations of warrant articles)

           The intent of this letter is to provide factual information and alert you to upcoming meetings about the warrant articles. These are the meetings scheduled that we are aware of:
  • Oct 11th 7pm Advisory Committee Planning & Regulation Subcommittee - Public hearing
  • Oct 12th 7:30pm Planning Board Public Hearing
  • Oct 17th 5pm Advisory Committee Planning & Regulation Subcommittee - Second public hearing​
  • Oct 17th 7:15 Preservation Commission (public hearing and CHR request to demolish garages)
  • November 8th LWV / TMMA forum (these warrant articles may be discussed but we have not confirmed it).
Please reach out to your neighborhood Town Meeting members for more information, and attend the above meeting to voice your opinions. Your Town meeting members will be voting on the warrant articles in November.  The zoning change that would allow for this new development ( Warrant Article 10) requires 2/3 of Town Meeting Members to vote to approve. 

Precinct 16 Town Meeting Members (in alphabetical order).
  • Saralynn Allaire
  • Adrienne Bowman
  • Stephen Chiumenti
  • Regina Frawley
  • Tom Gallitano
  • Scott Gladstone
  • Julie Jette
  • Alisa Jonas
  • Judith Leichtner
  • William Pu
  • Josh Safer
  • Irene Scharf
  • Nathan Shpritz
  • Tim Sullivan
  • Carolyn Thall

Email addresses can be found here: 
PreserveBrookline

Background
Hancock Village currently contains about 530 Brookline units (plus  200+ additional units in Boston). In 2009, CHR proposed expanding HV in Brookline by building 466 additional units and 855 additional parking spaces. CHR proposed several variations of its plans, but did not receive support from a town-wide Hancock Village Planning Committee. In 2011, Brookline established Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs) to help communities promote smart development and conserve neighborhood character. The first NCD was formed at Hancock Village to regulate its future development.

CHR 40B Proposals. In 2012, CHR submitted an application to MassDevelopment to develop the portion of HV closest to abutting properties on Beverly and Russett Roads, under a Massachusetts affordable house law known as “40B” that allows developers to sidestep local zoning in return for building developments with 20-25% “affordable” units. MassDevelopment had drafted a letter to deny this application, when CHR voluntarily withdrew it. CHR then resubmitted a proposal to MassDevelopment in 2013, which granted project eligibility. Between 2013-2014, the project was reviewed by Brookline’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which is tasked by 40B regulations with reviewing the project. These meetings were highly contentious. In 2015, the ZBA approved the plan with minor modifications. The approved plan had 161 units, 333 BR, and 292 parking. There were 45 3-4 BR units. The Town and a few neighbors sued the  ZBA, CHR and Mass Development to prevent this project. 

In 2016, MassDevelopment granted CHR project eligibility for a second 40B proposal for a second development within Hancock Village on Sherman and Gerry Roads. This second 40B contained 226 units, 480 BR, and 350 parking. There were 32 3-4 BR units .

Legal Action. The Town sued MassDevelopment, the ZBA and CHR, and asked several abutters to join the lawsuit. The lawsuit raised these complaints:
  1. Development of the property was restricted by a public contract made between the original developer and Town in 1946.
  2. The Project Eligibility Letter was not determined in a manner consistent with MassDevelopment and 40B rules.
  3. MassDevelopment’s charter is limited to blighted properties and therefore it did not have authority to confer project eligibility.
  4. The ZBA acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner in reaching its decision.

CHR’s motion to dismiss the contract part of the lawsuit was upheld in Superior Court and the Mass Court of Appeals. The remaining issues of the lawsuit were then brought to Land Court, where motions for its dismissal were denied, so the lawsuit continued.

Negotiations. Following the start of ZBA proceedings on the second HV 40B, Brookline, neighborhood representatives, and CHR entered into discussions to try to achieve a better solution at HV. In November 2016, a set of principles and parameters for HV development were agreed upon in the form of a signed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Among the key features of the MOA:
  1. Total units 360 net;
  2. Total BR 524 net, with no 3-4 BR units (the state has subsequently mandated 11 3 BR units).
  3. The sensitive green belt between HV and Russett/Beverly will have roads and parking, but no dwellings;  undeveloped portions will be deeded to Brookline, approximately 1/3 of the green belt.
  4. No traffic egress onto Russett
  5. No further development of HV. The Land Court lawsuit and second 40B ZBA process were suspended under this MOA.
Warrant Articles. CHR and Brookline put the principles and parameters agreed upon in the MOA into final form, without significant input from neighborhood representatives. Some features of the proposed warrant articles that surprised neighborhood representatives were:
  1. Conversion of 13 existing laundry rooms to bedrooms.
  2. Giving CHR the right to add 25,000 sq ft of additions to existing units in 10 years.
  3. A trash house located at the edge of HV in the greenbelt on the Russett side, 10 ft from abutters.
  4. The dissolution of the Hancock Village Neighborhood Conservation District.

 

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NCDC Meeting

Mark your calendar -- this letter was received by many neighbors on Wednesday, July 12. 

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september 2016 Update

Lawsuit Is Moving Forward

The lawsuit that the Town of Brookline and several neighbors brought against the developer, Chestnut Hill Realty, is moving forward. Recently the Land Court judge heard 9 procedural motions by CHR and Mass Development. After 3 hours of oral arguments, the judge ruled in our favor and denied all 9 motions.The lawsuit is slated to start in November and the judge has scheduled a visit to view the property.  

We must not accept the notion that the 40B developments at Hancock Village are foregone conclusions. While something may be developed there, the size, scope and composition of any development has not been determined. With this in mind, it is important to continue to pursue the lawsuit. The lawsuit has strong merits on its own which may yield beneficial outcomes for our community.. It is also an incentive to stimulate productive conversations with the developer and a means for the town to be able to get the best possible outcome for the property, our neighborhood, and the schools.

The lawsuit has been expensive and the costs will escalate this fall — one hour of a lawyer’s time costs several hundred dollars and we are looking at several days of legal proceedings, in addition to time for preparation.

Many neighbors have contributed to fund the legal fees (thank you!) but we need additional funds to support the costs of the impending lawsuit.  If you have already donated, please help and donate again.  If you have not yet contributed, now is the time.   Please donate funds to support this effort to benefit the entire neighborhood.

Click here to donate to the legal fund.

Conversations between the Town of Brookline and Chestnut Hill Realty

The town recently announced that it has entered into conversations with Chestnut Hill Realty to come up with a comprehensive plan for the future of Hancock Village.  From the town’s website:

"The Town of Brookline has initiated discussions with Chestnut Hill Realty to explore alternatives to the Residences of South Brookline project which has been approved and the Puddingstone at Chestnut Hill project that has been proposed at Hancock Village.  Town officials and  neighbors are involved in these discussions. No other development plans are being contemplated at Hancock Village in Brookline outside of these discussions and the ongoing public 40B process and litigation. The parties have agreed not to disclose the details of the discussions until there is mutual agreement that there has been significant progress.  Any development proposals that arise out of this process would be subject to a full public permitting and approval process, including involvement by the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and possibly Town Meeting.”

This conversation has included two neighborhood representatives. However, all participants have signed non-disclosure agreements and therefore the plans being discussed have not been made public at this time. Recently Chestnut Hill Realty used field paint to mark areas on the green space buffer and ribbons to mark trees, possibly in relationship to these conversations. While these conversations are ongoing, the ZBA hearings on the second 40B proposal have been continued to a later date.  The next date is Oct. 26, but that could be continued as well.  

Again the legal effort is intertwined with these ongoing discussions because it changes the nature of the playing field.

Now is the time to donate to the legal fund. Any amount helps!

Donations can also be made by mailing a check to: Brookline Neighbor’s Group, care of William Pu, 249 Beverly Road, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467 which avoids the 3% fee.

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Update on Two Projects to Expand Hancock Village

Dear Neighbors,

Several updates on the proposed 40B projects at Hancock Village:

1. Project #1, Development along the greenspace buffer between Russett/Beverly and Hancock Village.

Summary: 161 units, 333 BR (57 1BR, 59 2BR, 22 3BR, 23 4BR). 292 parking. 20% affordable.

This project has received a comprehensive permit from Brookline’s ZBA but Brookline and several abutters filed a lawsuit on the 40B project eligibility process and the ZBA hearing process. Mass Development and Chestnut Hill Realty’s (CHR’s) attempt to have our case dismissed failed, and we have succeeded in establishing the right to have the merits of our case tried in court.  In the next few weeks the judge will be setting the timing for trial in Land Court in the summer or fall. The abutters have retained a lawyer with expertise in 40B law (Jay Talerman) and his participation in this process has been instrumental in getting us to where we are – having established the right to have our case decided in a trial on the merits.

IT IS VITAL THAT WE CONTINUE TO RECEIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM THE NEIGHBORHOOD SO THAT WE CAN HAVE THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME FROM THE LAWSUIT.

Please donate! Information for donation below.

2. Project #2, Development along Sherman road.

Chestnut Hill Realty has applied for a second 40B development. Not surprisingly, Mass Development recently granted a Project Eligibility Letter, setting the 40B process in motion for a second time. On 4/11, CHR submitted their application for a Comprehensive Permit to Brookline. That means that a ZBA hearing will begin considerations for the comprehensive permit in early May. CHR and Mass Development continue to show no regard for the negative impacts that overdevelopment of this property will have on our neighborhood and on Brookline.

The comprehensive permit application can be found here: http://www.brooklinema.gov/1297/Puddingstone-40B.

Summary: 226 units: 66 1BR, 102 2 BR, 15 3 BR, 10 4 BR (355 BR total). 350 parking. 20% affordable.

Total for both projects: 387 units, 688 BR including 37 3BR and 33 4BR, 642 parking. Considering that single family homes in this area are largely 3 and 4 BR, it is like 50+ new single family homes, plus many more 1 and 2 BR apartments.

These developments will have negative effects on our neighborhood. The combined impact will be huge and will impact traffic, density, pollution, and schools.

IF YOU DO WOULD LIKE TO DO SOMETHING TO OPPOSING THIS OVERDEVELOPMENT, PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO OUR LEGAL FUND!

Donation information below.

3. Historic Preservation update.

Hancock Village is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, but its listing has been blocked for years by the objection of CHR and the failure of the Mass Historical Commission to complete its role in the process. An application, made jointly on behalf of Brookline and Boston, for Hancock Village to finally be listed in the National Register of Historic Places was not acted upon at the state level for this reason. In January the town of Brookline appealed to the National Park Service regarding Massachusetts’ failure to complete its role in the process. Our APPEAL was UPHELD. Accordingly, Massachusetts was directed to promptly schedule the listing for consideration by the State Review Board, and to then forward the nomination to the National Register without delay. We are waiting for the State Review Board to take up this matter.

DONATIONS:

When donating please keep in mind that lawyers cost several hundred dollars an hour and that this lawsuit will require 50-100 hours of time, or more. 

One way to donate is through our website at this link.

Another way is to make checks payable to Brookline Neighbors Group c/o William Pu. Send to 249 Beverly Road, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

SPREAD THE WORD!

Please forward this email to your neighbors.

THANKS FOR CONTINUING TO SUPPORT OUR LONG-STANDING EFFORTS. 

Sincerely,

Bill Pu for PreserveBrookline

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2016 Feb 07 Update: Chestnut Hill Realty is at it again!

Chestnut Hill Realty has proposed a SECOND 40B project at Hancock Village. This proposes a development even larger than the first. 

Together these proposals are like building 77 new 3-4 BR homes and 310 new apartments!

This massive development will permanently change our neighborhood for the worse. It will stress municipal services and exacerbate crowding and traffic. It will destroy valuable greenspace.

A call to action:

If you agree that this is bad for Brookline and for our neighborhood, then take actions to stop or reduce it!

  • Attend the FEBRUARY 9 SELECTMEN MEETING when they will take public comments on the new proposal, as they prepare Brookline's response that will be sent to MassDevelopment. The meeting is scheduled for 8 pm on the agenda. Selectmen’s meeting room, 6th Floor, Town Hall, 333 Washington Ave.

  • Support our LEGAL EFFORTS TO OPPOSE THE FIRST PROJECT! This is expensive (hundreds of dollars per hour) and we need funds to continue it! If you have donated before, thank you and please consider donating again. For those that have not but are concerned about the neighborhood and the schools, THIS IS A WAY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Please be as generous as you can. Although the Town is involved, the participation of the neighborhood is essential! Contribute here.

  • Spread the word by talking to your neighbors and forwarding this email.

  • Sign up to get future emails and updates by clicking this link and entering your email in the right sidebar.

 Read on to learn details of the new project and review the first project.

Read more
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2016 New Years Update

The New Year comes with several updates on 40B development at Hancock Village. The most important news is the lawsuit that Brookline and several neighbors have brought to put the brakes on the project is active and continuing. Brookline and several neighbors filed suit against the ZBA’s decision to grant the developer (Chestnut Hill Realty; CHR) a comprehensive permit to proceed with their 40B plan is continuing. CHR and the 40B sponsoring agency, MassDevelopment, tried to have the lawsuit dismissed but the land court judge denied the motion. MassDevelopment then tried additional legal maneuvers to have the case dismissed, and these were also promptly denied. Next up is discovery.

While this Land Court case is proceeding, our legal attempts to enforce the 1946 agreement that originally permitted development of the property were dismissed The Appeals Court ruled that the 1946 agreement had expired, and the Supreme Judicial Court did not elect to hear the case. Although not surprising, this result is disappointing and in part reflects errors made with the original agreement and original Town Meeting actions to allow development to occur.

However, what is surprising is that we recently learned that CHR has submitted plans for a SECOND 40B PROJECT at Hancock Village to MassDevelopment. This project is even larger than the first, and proposes 226 units, mostly in a large 6-story building off Gerry road. Together with the FIRST project approved for 161 units (333 bedrooms), that makes 387 new units proposed, and brings the number of units in Hancock Village to over 900 unit, in an area that is already straining town resources.

This unrelenting effort by the developer to further expand Hancock Village through misuse of 40B is further evidence that the Town and the neighborhood must do all in its power to resist these plans. Again we ask for your support to continue the legal action in Land Court. Discovery and continued legal challenge is expensive and adequate funding will be critical. We need your financial help!

Click this link to contribute to the legal defense fund.

Share this with your neighbors, and signup for the email list at www.preservebrookline.com (right sidebar, enter email address, click join).

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An Important Win

Last week we scored an important win in Land Court, where we are challenging Brookline ZBA’s approval of Chestnut Hill Realty’s (CHR’s) 40B project at Hancock Village and MassDevelopment’s issuance of the Project Eligibility Letter (PEL) that started the process off in the first place.

CHR and MassDevelopment both tried to get parts of our case dismissed, but the court ruled in our favor on all motions, including the key issue that the PEL can be challenged in court. This means that all aspects of our case can move forward, full steam ahead!

But to keep this legal battle going, we need to raise more funds. We are now entering the next phase of the lawsuit involving discovery, which is costly. To continue having successes requires money.

Now is the time to get involved. Click here to donate.

Many in the neighborhood have made contributions (thank you!), which have covered legal fees for the past three years. But much more is needed for the next phases, even with several neighbors who have been donating their time and energy to support the effort.

We're all concerned about the future of our neighborhood and our town, so we're changing our name to more accurately describe our shared goal. Going forward, Preserve Brookline will be Brookline Future. This fight is about the future, not the past, and it's about the whole town, not just South Brookline. As part of our makeover, we will be moving our website to a new address, www.brooklinefuture.org, and emails will be sent from info@brooklinefuture.org. If you previously subscribed to the preservebrookline email list, we’ve transferred it to the new server. If you didn’t, please join us at the new site. We will make efforts to keep you more up to date with more blog posts and through social media outlets.

We're for affordable housing. We're for greenspace. We're for smart urban planning, thoughtful management of our public schools, wetlands protection, historic preservation, and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

Our town is going to pay a very high price if we don't win this battle.

Join us now. It's time to take our town forward.

Click here to donate.

 

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