Reaction to Mattapan plan mostly likes, with queries

BPDA River Street Mattapan plan

The city's planning agency is proposing larger residential developments along the River Street corridor, and mixing in more commercial space. (Image via BPDA)

After the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) unveiled the “PLAN: Mattapan” draft to the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council (GMNC) on Monday night, officials listened as residents reacted.

“Will the neighbors have a say on these new units or can the property owner just build?” asked resident Louise Gant. “I can foresee there being problems.”

Jared Staley, a BPDA planner who worked on the report, said that would be the case if the “ADU 3.0” plan were absorbed into zoning. Such structures would be “as of right” and wouldn’t need neighborhood processes.

“Where you can have a say,” he said, “is helping us through that new zoning process and addressing concerns by working together to set the standards.” In the chat, resident Gisela Soriano approved of the plan. “Yes, for ADU!” she wrote. The “ADU 3.0” plan would involve alternatives to the city’s fire codes, such as requiring sprinklers in the units to mitigate, not having two means of egress or not having the fire lane access.

Fatima Ali Salaam, GMNC’s president, noted that the many fires in Mattapan and Dorchester should be considered before such changes. “The horrific fire this past weekend in Dorchester I hope makes anyone think twice about keeping building fire safety requirements in the forefront of the approval process,” she wrote. “It took over 120 firefighters to deal with that fire.”

Many residents responded favorably to the way the plan focused on proposed zoning changes on commercial corridors such as Blue Hill Avenue and “residential fabric” areas. New zoning tools for lot coverage and permeable, or open, space were also well-received.

The plan’s key idea of a “10-minute neighborhood,” or bringing essential items within quick walking distance to residents through mixed-use zoning districts, also received high marks.

RELATED: City planners aim to remake Mattapan as a ‘10-minute neighborhood’

David Lopes noted the existence of neglected walking paths in the Wellington Hill neighborhood. He said the plan should utilize these assets.

A common refrain from some residents has been skepticism over the plan, with many believing it will be the ticket to gentrification and displacement.

It “sounds like gentrification similar to what happened in the South End,” wrote Sheila Azores. She added that it felt like the city was “targeting” the neighborhood. In response,

BPDA officials and state Rep. Russell Holmes said the plan wasn’t “targeting,” but rather a case of preventative medicine to head off displacement and inappropriate development in the future. “Other neighborhoods like Hyde Park and West Roxbury are begging for something like this,” Holmes said.

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