Revere residents soon will be seeing change to the landscape on Broadway.
The Revere Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), which held its regular monthly meeting last Wednesday, April 27, in the City Councillor Joseph A. DelGrosso City Council Chamber, unanimously approved variances that will enable the owner of the Fernwood Professional Building at 454 Broadway to raze the adjacent former Moose Lodge at 470 Broadway and expand the professional building onto the former Moose property.
Attorney Chris Cridler from the Boston law firm of D’Ambrosio LLP presented the application, which specifically stated as follows:
Hamel Management Group, Inc., 10 Lookout Terrace, Lynnfield, is seeking the following variances of the Revised Ordinances of the City of Revere to enable the appellant to raze the existing structure on Lot 161 at 470 Broadway, and construct an addition to the property known and numbered as 454 Broadway, in order to expand upon the current community medical office(s) housed therein:
1. Noncompliance with Section 17.24.010 with respect to maximum FAR of 1.5 within the CB District;
2. Noncompliance with Section 17.24.010 (v) with respect to minimum side yard setback requirement of 20 feet where abutting a residential use in the CB District;
3. Noncompliance with Section 17.28.020 (A) with respect to minimum parking requirements of 1/1,200 GSF for commercial use (general office) for new construction within the CB District.
Cridler explained that John Hamel, the president of Hamel Management Group, is a former long-time resident who still is active in community affairs. Hamel constructed the Fernwood Professional Building in 1998, replacing a dilapidated structure that was on the site at that time.
Cridler said that Cambridge Health Alliance, which has been an anchor of the professional building since 1998, needs a larger space in order to provide expanded services to the Revere community. Hamel’s proposed addition to the Fernwood building would extend to the edge of the property line of the current Moose property, thereby requiring the variances.
Cridler presented an architect’s drawing of the proposed addition, which will match the current Fernwood building. Cridler noted that
Ward 4 City Councillor Patrick M. Keefe, Jr. is in favor of the project (Keefe sent a letter to the board expressing his support), as is Director of Community Development Robert O’Brien.
In addition, Ward 3 Councillor Anthony S. Cogliandro, who was present at the meeting for a different matter, stood up to voice his support for the project.
“This property is just one property away from my district,” said Cogliandro. “This will be a great use for this building and I’m in favor of it.”
Chairman Michael Tucker and members Aklog Limeneh, John Lopes, Hazem Hamdan, and Arthur Pelton then voted 5-0 to approve the application.
The board took up two other matters on its agenda.
The first was item #A-22-01, which stated as follows:
“Durant Performance Coatings, Inc., 112 Railroad Street, appealing the decision of the Building Inspector and/or the Site Plan Review Committee on November 16, 2021 to approve the site plan application submitted in relation to 44 Railroad Street.”
The ZBA initially had rejected Durant’s application in February, but later acknowledged that it had violated the Open Meeting Law (because the board discussed and voted on the matter in a non-public meeting of the board members prior to the public meeting) and placed the matter back on its agenda after Durant gave notice to the ZBA of the Open Meeting Law violation.
Attorney Adam Kupazol from the Boston law firm of Ruberto, Israel, and Weiner, represented Durant. He asserted that the Building Inspector and the Site Plan Review Committee did not adhere to the city’s zoning ordinances. He also asserted that the Mass. Open Meeting Law had been violated by the City Council in November (because of insufficient public notice), to the detriment of his client’s interests, when the council approved a Special Permit for a 120-car parking lot at 44 Railroad St.
Kupazol listed a number of requirements that the operator of the proposed parking lot did not provide to the Site Plan Review Committee. He also noted that the Site Plan Review did not have a traffic study prior to taking its vote, which therefore made its action premature.
He further stated that the Site Plan Review Committee did not follow the proper protocol when it sent its recommendations directly to the City Council, rather than to the Building Inspector.
Speaking against the application was attorney Amato Bocchino, representing the two abutters who own the property at 44 Railroad St. He asserted that neither the ZBA nor the Building Inspector have jurisdiction because the City Council issued a special permit, which does not invoke a zoning enforcement action by either the Building Inspector or the ZBA. He said this is strictly a matter between the City Council and the Site Plan Review Committee.
Durant has filed a lawsuit challenging the City Council’s decision in November to issue the Special Permit. In addition, this matter came up last week before the Licensing Commission when, despite Kupazol’s opposition, the commission granted a license for the operation of a Park N Go business.
However, Lopes said the issue “belonged to the City Council.”
Tucker concurred, stating, “I still feel that this should not be in front of this board.”
After obtaining clarification from Melnyk regarding the procedural posture of the actual question before the ZBA, the board decided not to take any action on the application, and instead voted unanimously to place the application “on file.”
In the other matter before the ZBA, the commissioners literally sent the applicant back to the drawing board.
That application, #A-22-09, reads as follows:
Mario Zepaj, 78 Mill Street, Middleton, is seeking the following variances of the Revised Ordinances of the City of \Revere to enable the appellant to subdivide existing lots 23, 25, 27, and part lot 29 Bosson Street, into proposed lots, Lot A and Lot B Bosson Street, for the purpose of constructing a new two-family home on proposed Lot A Bosson Street:
1. Noncompliance with RRO Section 17.24.010 with respect to minimum area requirement of 8,000 s.f. and frontage requirement of 80-ft for the creation of lot A Bosson St. for the purpose of constructing a two family dwelling within the RB District;
2. Noncompliance with RRO Section 17.24.010 with respect to the minimum area requirement of 8,000 s.f. and frontage requirement of 80-ft. for the creation of lot B Bosson St. within the RB District.
Mr. Zepaj presented his application to the board and explained the unique circumstances of the lot that require him to seek the variance.
However, Ward 3 City Councillor Anthony Cogliandro urged the ZBA not to act on the application at this time and requested that the matter be continued in order for Mr. Zepaj to speak to him about the project. It is the policy of the ZBA to seek input from the local ward councillors before it takes action on requests for variances.
“I need to get some more information before taking a stand,” said Cogliandro, who then made reference to a home that was built on Fairfield St. after receiving a variance from the ZBA. “Not one of those abutters is happy with what was built there,” said Cogliandro. “I am not a fan of squeezing them into neighborhoods like this.”
Donna LeBlanc, who lives at 127 Steeple St. spoke against the granting of a variance.
“If this house is built there, it will be far too close to the property I own,” said LeBlanc. “It’s just too close to build another home in there.”
However, in the end, the ZBA voted to continue the matter on a technical issue when Tucker noted that the plot plan that was submitted by Zepaj with his application does not meet the board’s specifications, which are outlined on the commission’s website.
The board then voted 5-0 to continue the matter to its next meeting on Wednesday, May 25, provided that Zepaj files a proper plot plan 14 days prior to the meeting.