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Residents voice environmental, density concerns on East Second St. development

Posted by Patrick Rosso  January 26, 2012 10:00 AM

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(Patrick D. Rosso/

Close to 100 residents turned out Wednesday night to voice concerns about the East Second Street development.

At a well-attended public meeting Wednesday night, South Boston residents came out in strong opposition to a development proposed for East Second Street.

Residents cited environmental concerns at the site, along with parking and density. They also challenged developer Peter Zagorianakos to come back before the community after he has "properly" tested the soil.

Some worry that the soil on the property could be contaminated by a nearby lot -- on East First Street -- that once housed underground containers to store fuel.

"We are not against development," said Marion Gustowski. "I'm against being poisoned."

The proposal by Zagorianakos' company, N & P Associates, based in Newton, calls for the construction of a 39,600-square-foot rental structure with 36-units and 53-underground parking spaces on a vacant lot at 902 East Second Street.

This is not the first time Zagorianakos has been before the community trying to develop the lot. An earlier project that boasted 31-units along with 52-parking spaces was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority's Board in 2007 but was never constructed because of a lawsuit brought against the developer by neighbors opposed to the variances granted by the city's Zoning Board of Appeals.

The new project, which has been redesigned to conform with zoning in the neighborhood, must still be reviewed by the community because of the BRA's "Small Project Review" Article 80E.

The Massachusetts Department of the Environmental Protection currently has listed the East First Street site as a "closed" location, meaning it has been cleaned up. The property on East Second Street that Zagorianakos would like to develop is not listed as a contaminated site.

Nonetheless, residents still had their concerns about having Zagorianakos testing the soil and not an independent organization approved by the community.

"We want independence," Gustowski said. "We don't want Peter doing it himself. We need to make sure he's not the one in control. We need independent people that can keep him honest."

Zagorianakos said he was confident in his project and the cleanliness of the site.

"We have and we will do everything according to state regulations," he said.

Although environmental concerns were a major topic of the night, neighbors also cited density and the character of the neighborhood as a factor in their opposition.

"I hope you would have recognized that you don't live in our community," said Tia Zaferakis. "This is a neighborhood."

Many raised concern that the structure was out of character for a neighborhood lined with three-family and two-family homes.

Zagorianakos said he has made changes to better reflect the neighborhood, eliminating roof decks and providing more parking than required by the zoning code.

But Peter Logue, who recently moved to South Boston, said: "I think it's a prime location, it's a beautiful part of the neighborhood and what you are looking to build here is unrepresentative of the neighborhood."

State Representative Nick Collins was also in attendance, throwing in his support with the residents.

"Right now I'm skeptical about this project given the history of the developer," said Collins. "My office along with [State Senator] Hart's will be working with the community to make sure their concerns are heard."

Collins also said that along with Harts's office, all South Boston elected officals will be working together to address to address the concerns of residents.

The public comment period on the project ends Feb. 10.

The BRA has set up a project page for the development that can be found here.

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

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