Zoning Board of Appeals Approves Two Projects

The Revere Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve a change to one project on Shirley Avenue and voted again to allow a 36-unit apartment building to be constructed on Washington Ave. at its meeting last Wednesday afternoon.

The project at 191 Shirley Ave. initially had been approved by the board as a four-story building in late 2019, but the developer, Craig Halajian of Cambridge,  came before the board seeking to add a fifth floor that would have eight additional single-bedroom units. 

Atty. Cory Rhoades, who represented the developer, told the board that because of the pandemic, financing would be easier if the developer could increase the number of rental units.  He noted that even with the fifth floor, the building still would remain within the height restrictions of the area. Rhoades added that the additional floor would blend in nicely with the new buildings in the neighborhood that the board had approved at their June meeting.

Although parking issues concerned the commissioners, Rhoades noted that there will be 24 spaces, instead of the 23 that were approved initially because of a reconfiguration of the compact car parking.

The commissioners wanted to see each commercial rental space on the first floor have at least one space and possibly two spaces. As for the residential units, the renters will have to sign a lease stating that they do not own cars. It also was pointed out that renters will be unable to obtain a resident parking permit.

Robert O’Brien, the city’s Director of Planning and Development, noted, “This is an exceptional case. The developer did not plan to return to the Board, but the COVID-19 has had an impact on financing.”

O’Brien also said that the first floor of commercial space will have “a vibrant use.”

Ward 2 Councilor Ira Novoselsky supported the project, saying, “The building looks good and  other building on the same street will be going five stories.”

Although there was no opposition to the request, Michael Tucker, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, still had reservations about the number of designated parking spaces for commercial tenants and said he would like to see two spaces per commercial tenant.

The motion passed unanimously with the following provisions: That there will be no fewer than one designated space per commercial unit and, if needed, then each commercial tenant should have two designated spaces. In addition, the residential apartments can be rented only to tenants who do not own cars, which can be verified by city officials with the excise tax bills.

The other development that received unanimous approval by the board was for a 36-unit apartment building at Lot 144 Washington Ave. consisting of 18 one-bedroom and 18 two-bedroom apartments. The developer was seeking a variance for minimum parking, principal building coverage, front, side and rear yard setback and maximum number of stories.

Rhoades, also representing this developer, DCM Realty of Wakefield, said, “This is an exciting project,” noting that the lot is adjacent to Route 1 South and is more than half an acre in size. 

Rhoades told the board that this development will be similar to other buildings in the neighborhood, but with less density. He pointed out that another developer could have brought forward a project with 50 to 75 units, but DCM opted for a smaller project that will have well-manicured landscaping, both front and rear.

While there will be only one parking space per unit, the billboard sign that has been there since 1978 will be removed.

Speaking in favor of the proposal was O’Brien, who noted that the project would greatly improve the area. O’Brien added that the city will realize more than $380,000 in permitting fees and the Community Improvement Trust Fund that will be available for major repair projects on sidewalks and streets, as well as for recreation and open space, in the neighborhood.

Two neighbors opposed the project. One neighbor, Joyce Baressi of Washington Ave., expressed her fear that the project will increase the traffic even further in the neighborhood. She said that the neighboring residents already are dealing with heavy traffic volume every morning and night, noting that it is difficult at times for her to get out of her driveway.

The commissioners unanimously approved the project, with the proviso that on-street parking will not be allowed for the tenants and that each unit will have one designated parking space regardless if it is a one bedroom or two bedroom.

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