Friday, July 21, 2006

Then we'd say nothing would come between us two dreamers

Well, fuck.

We've just found out that the people next door to us sold their house to a development company which is planning on demolishing it and building three duplex condos on the lot.

We're talking right next door. Like, maybe 15 feet away.

We got a notice in the mail about the Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing, which is in two and a half weeks.

I don't know what the fuck to do. How do you fight something like this?

I don't mean that in a despairing "Oh woe is me" kind of way, I mean TELL ME HOW TO FIGHT IT. Give me tips, pointers, ways to get the neighborhood to rally behind me in that climactic movie scene where the unlikely hero has a big show-down at City Hall with the evil real-estate developer and triumphs to the strains of swelling violins.

I don't want to live next door to a demolition and construction project for the next year. I don't want my son to breathe construction fumes and be awakened from his naps by backhoes' engines grumbling to life (although, let's be honest, he'd probably love to stare at the giant trucks all day). I don't want ANOTHER friggin' condo complex on this street. There's two of them already on our tiny dead-end street and I don't know if it can support another one - it's not a very big street and the traffic is already a problem.

Plus they would have to raze all the property's trees all the way back to the stream that runs down behind the land. All those trees are lovely - their property is just to the right of what you see in this photo, which is of our property. I've never taken a photo of their property, although perhaps I should as it may not look like that for very long - it could all be gone. That would mean that all the birds and squirrels and such would be SOL, plus there'd be even less land to help absorb all the rainfall runoff, which was already a problem this year.

Even worse, I Googled the developer's name and got back a bunch of newspaper articles on previous projects of his that were protested by the communities he was building in. They had quotes like "[Developer's Name] builds the cheapest crap you can find. All [he] cares about is the almighty dollar." Fabulous. That sounds like just the kind of project we'd like to have in our neighborhood.

Even worse than THAT is that the developer's attorney is ON THE BOSTON ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS. He's on the fucking board! Doesn't that sound like an ethics violation to you? Doesn't that sound like cheap Hollywood melodrama? How can that be?

I really don't know what to do. I'm trying to keep this all in perspective, but it's very very hard.

Thanks for reading.


Karan said...

It sucks that your neighbor sold without telling you that it was going to happen.

You can hope that there's an anthropoligical site like an old Indian burial ground on the property. But that might be a long shot.

Here's what I would do....One, keep up with the research you have already started. Print off the materials and highlight the bits that talk about the quality of his projects and the complaints. Make a summary page and pass it out to the neighbors and then rally them to fight as a big group. Make up a "war" packet of all the materials you find and assemble them, one for each member of the zoning board. Get a politician on your side...preferably a well loved politician...and hire a lawyer. Check out the zoning laws and find out if there is some obscure bit that might block a change. Do not trust the zoning board to know all the laws regarding housing law/zoning law. If you find something, even if it's way out there, follow up and investigate it as an option.

If you don't have enough time to do all of this, see if you can ask for a continuance.

I'll ask my husband this question too. He's a professional land surveyor and he might have an idea or two.

thptpth said...

Thanks for the ideas, Karan. I'm working on a flyer to hand out to my neighbors right now, and I'm going to contact our Ward Councilor to see if I can get him on my side.

If you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

zachdb said...

Oooooh, bummer! That's right up there on the "sucks big donkey dick" list. I wish I had some helpful insight, but it sounds like you're on the right track.
I definitely agree with the zoning research - the 4-story condo slated for the triangle parking lot in front of my apt. got tied up indefinitely due to someone pointing out the approved plans had it 1 ft taller than allowed, so it went back to square one.
If nothing else, perhaps you can delay the project til you've moved away...

(The verification word for this post, by the way, is "blockd" - maybe it's a sign)