There are seemingly two conflicting visions coming out of City Hall for where the City is going Ð one from the administration and one from the various Boards and Commissions Ð and caught in the middle of it all seems to be developers like Greg Antonelli.
Antonelli appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Monday after City officials encouraged he and two other existing and permitted projects on Broadway to try to add pizzazz to their program.
What ended up happening was Antonelli took bullets from angry residents near his 605 Broadway project, and sparked confusing amongst the Board Ð which has been wondering aloud for months about where it is that Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his administration are taking the City.
While DeMaria and the administration seem to be moving towards a car-free Everett that depends more on public transit and alternative transportation like bicycles, the ZBA still has zoning rules that require parking for cars and a skepticism that Everett can really become car-free.
Antonelli began his presentation, which came last on a long agenda Monday, by saying he already has a permit from October 2017 to build 18 units with parking on the ground floor. He said he got an e-mail this year from the administration asking him to revisit a previous proposal from last summer that included retail on the ground floor and no parking.
So, he said he spent the money to try to build a better project that activated the street Ð putting tables on the sidewalk and generating foot traffic; as opposed to having only a stilt building 60 feet in the air where there is no activity on the street.
“When was the last time a building on Broadway was taken down?” he asked. “When did anyone have the foresight to do that. They do it in Malden, Somerville and Chelsea. In Everett, we’re behind. We in the stone ages. It’s the way of the world. There are people who will live here who will take Uber, Ride Shares, public transit and the bus lane. People are going to have cars. Some people will not. If they want to live on Broadway, they’ll have to figure it out. I know what’s going on here. It’s going on everywhere. It’s 2018. Everett is changing. Everything is changingÉHalf the problem is people don’t have any vision. The City is going that way. I’d like to go that way too.”
But just what way was that many on the Board asked. A sticking point for the Board is the fact that the new zoning overlay districts and zoning tweaks have been proposed, reviewed and now are still not enacted.
ZBA Chair Joe DeSisto said he couldn’t believe anyone from the City would suggest a project come back with no parking.
“In 20 years I’ve been up here, the number one issue is parking,” he said. “Has it gotten better in 20 years? Not at all. Not once. Why any department in the City would encourage any developer or any person building a home with no parking blows my mind. If any department is recommending no parkingÉI don’t believe they understand the problems in Everett.”
Numerous neighbors came out to oppose the project as well, including Dr. Paul Tesone and other professionals around the immediate area.
“I don’t see any positive impact on the current situation,” said Dr. Li Wong of 609 Broadway. “I don’t think this is a variance from the law, but a change in the law.”
That struck right at the heart of the matter.
Developers seem to be encouraged to bring projects that don’t rely on cars, that adhere to a new set of zoning rules that haven’t yet been approved. ZBA members said that puts them in a bind, and they would like it to end.
Meanwhile, for Antonelli’s project, there is still life with an activated sidewalk café. He agreed to come back to the Sept. 17 meeting to perhaps execute a compromise where there is some parking and some space for a café on the first floor.
¥In other ZBA news, the Core Group returned to re-permit their five, three-story townhouses at 27 Carter St. in the Village.
There was quite a bit of opposition from the neighborhood, but the difficulty came in that the developers were only looking for a variance for tandem parking. That would allow them to create a better looking project.
Attorney Paul Delorey said they could build a project with parking all across the front of the property, but it wouldn’t look as nice for neighbors.
The most direct abutter said he supported the measure and was happy to see the vacant sign shop replaced with something new.
It was approved 5-0.
¥A very controversial project at 85-87 Boston Street was tabled on Monday per request of attorneys. Neighbors were irritated by the second extension on the matter, but it is to come up on Sept. 17.
¥The Village Bar and Grill at 89 Tileston St. got 4-1 approval to add live entertainment to its restaurant in the Village. The live entertainment use was not allowed in the River Overlay District. Now, owner John Lopes must get a permit from the License Board.
He said he doesn’t intend to do anything crazy, maybe karaoke and a three-piece band.