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Independence Ave. project in Braintree, Quincy is scuttled

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  July 24, 2013 05:05 PM

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Concern over a 36-unit condominium complex proposed for Braintree’s Independence Avenue vanished Tuesday night as the owner of the parcel abruptly withdrew the application.

The Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was among the final steps for the project approval, which sits on the Braintree and Quincy town line.

Though abutting neighbors in Quincy turned out in groups to oppose the creation of the large-scale residence, midway through the meeting, owner Scott Palmer announced that he will withdrawing the application entirely.

“I just felt we were at an impasse with the developer, hit a crossroads and couldn’t move forward,” Palmer said. “It’s just a last-minute detail that couldn’t be worked out, and it’s just the way it had to be, unfortunately. No one is saying it won’t ever go back on the agenda, but as of right now it’s off.”

Palmer said he had waited long enough, and wanted the developer to close on the purchase of the land, despite not having full permitting approvals. According to Palmer said the developer had previously agreed to such terms, but later changed his mind.

“Ideally, I wanted to see the gateway beautified and I still do, and I’m still hoping it will be. But I’m involved in this thing too, and I have to make sure I’m okay on the other end as well and that just wasn’t the case,” Palmer said.

The move brings to an end an almost two and a half year process to bring development to the North Braintree parcel, disfigured by blight and encumbered with over $1 million in back taxes to both communities combined.

John Garland, attorney for developer Thomas Fitzgerald, declined to comment on the differences between the two parties, but spoke of disappointment.

“This has been a two and a half year process, and appeared before numerous community meetings, had the parcel rezoned, had a favorable recommendation on all but one relief requests in a planning board vote. We’re getting to the final stage here and it was withdrawn by the owner,” he said after the meeting.

Braintree officials had been pushing for something to be done with the property, which sits on the gateway to the community.

During the rezoning request, which sought to re-categorize the land for commercial use, officials even said they should have an open mind about development to quicken a resolution to the parcel.

Though those hopes have been temporarily dashed, the resolution comes as a happy surprise to Quincy residents.

“It was an abrupt withdrawal that was welcome by myself and other residents that live in this area,” said Quincy City Councilor Brian Palmucci, whose West Quincy ward sits on the town line. “It was a bad project, a proposal that needed a lot of work, and there were a lot of issues that were outstanding.”

Residents mainly took fault with the density of the proposal, which asked to be taller than zoning laws allow, more dense than zoning laws tolerate, and larger than zoning laws permit on this sized lot.

Concerns about the traffic impacts from the development also persisted.

Residents said they were happy things have worked out in their favor, but do hope for some type of development at the site.

“We’re not opposed to that thing being developed. It’s just what’s going to go in there,” said Pat O’Donnell, a Hughes Street resident in Quincy. “…I think [it should be] something that fits the neighborhood, with a lot of flexibility.”

Palmucci said he planned to call the owner to discuss other possible developments. Regardless of next steps, Palmucci said he would make sure Quincy had a say on what might be developed on the Braintree side.

“I will continue to work with any perspective developer on this site,” Palmucci said. “We’ll have a community meeting, discuss it with the residents in the area, have an open process and allow people to give input, but I hope that someone else moves on this project, and as always I hope that it’s an appropriately sized and scoped project for that neighborhood.”

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