It didn’t come without some hiccups, but the first Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meeting was deemed a success last Tuesday night, April 21, with the City’s first official online approval of a project taking place.
The ZBA had a full quorum of members in a City-organized Zoom meeting that was accessible on several formats and by phone.
The meeting began rather smoothly, with new Chair Mary Gerace taking charge of the meeting with several members online and ready to participate.
The first matter on the docket was the request from Luis Flores to locate an auto repair shop at 357 Third St., which is a scrap yard now and is in the newly-zoned Commercial Triangle District.
Flores explained he had an existing five-year lease with the owner to operate the new repair and auto body shop, a lease that began before COVID-19 and has languished as the City and other bodies have tried to get up and running with meetings. He explained that he used to have a shop in Medford, and it had a great clientele. Then, he moved some time ago to Plaistow, NH, but his clients didn’t follow – hurting the business. Coming back to the area in Everett will jumpstart the business, he said.
Most of the members saw no problem with it, and neither did any City officials who were involved in the online meeting.
It was approved by a vote of 5-0 – the City’s first online approval of the COVID-19 era.
However, there was an immediate problem as Councilor Michael McLaughlin had wanted to read a statement from abutters against the plan, and he had his own concerns. McLaughlin was not able to get online to the meeting in time to register those concerns prior to the vote. Apparently, there had been two access links and phone numbers given out – with several elected officials getting the wrong number.
Later, McLaughlin said he had concerns with the placement of an auto shop in the new Commercial Triangle zoning district. That district was meant to showcase new residential, office and research development and to discourage auto repair and scrap yards, McLaughlin said.
His objection and the incorrect log-in information led to a great deal of legal difficulties, with Attorney Robin Stein of KP Law advising the members of the implications of voting a matter if everyone wasn’t able to access the public meeting.
A recess in the meeting then proceeded for more than 10 minutes as they discussed the “new” problem. It was decided in the end that the issue was not enough to rescind the vote and call off the meeting – which was a possibility that was discussed during the recess.
•The next matter for the board’s attention was Oliveira’s Restaurant owner Wilson Rangel, of Saugus, who was petitioning to make a 3-family into a 4-family at 810 Broadway. Currently, an insurance office has occupied a first-floor space, and Rangel hoped to convert it into a fourth living unit.
He said he plans to have his employees from the restaurant live there after doing some construction on the property – which has only one existing lease.
Members requested that he restrict residential parking permits on the property, which he agreed to do.
It was approved 5-0.
•A petition for 15-17 Argyle St. was continued when members of the ZBA told Attorney Anthony Rossi that they had issues with the parking plans for the conversion of the property from a two-family to a three-family. Constantino Pannullo and family, who live outside of Everett in Revere and Medford, had suggested a parking plan in the back with new spaces added to an existing lot.
Members Michael Dantone and Gerace had issues with the layout.
“I went down there and I can’t see how it will work,” said Dantone. “It’s a mess down there. I see trouble all over this plan. I have great concerns.”
Said Gerace, “I’m also very concerned about them getting out. It’s very tight and a family neighborhood. I don’t see how it will work.”
The matter was unanimously tabled until the May 4 meeting, with Attorney Rossi committing to revamp the parking.
•A plan put forth by the DiCarlo family for a property they bought at 83-85 Linden St. last year was approved, but only after extensive conversation about not allowing residential parking stickers.
Nadia DiCarlo explained their family has several properties in Everett and are conscientious landlords in the city. They purchased the property almost one year ago only to discover that the eight-unit building was actually a six-unit building on paper. The two units that existed in the basement for 40 years were never legally registered.
“Nothing is changing here,” said DiCarlo. “We only want to affirm what we’re being taxed as – which is an eight family.”
There are eight parking spots for the eight units, and as has become standard, the ZBA asked that as a condition, no more parking sticker permits would be allowed at the building. That was a stumbling block for about 20 minutes for the owners, who hadn’t heard of that condition being put on most applications.
In the end, they agreed to it.
The conversion was allowed by a vote of 5-0.
Two items were also tabled at the meeting until a later date:
•Rex-E, LLC wishes to convert the former Little Caesar’s pizza store on Broadway at the City Line into a nine-unit, three story residential building. The matter is still being discussed at the Planning Board and was tabled at the ZBA. •A move by Eduardo Matosinho to build a second structure on the lot at 28-30 Carlson St. was tabled. Currently, a two-family home exists on the 5,814 sq. ft. lot and he would like to build another residence on the lot as well. It was tabled until the next meeting.