Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Giobbe House: The Saga Continues

While I was out of town last week, the Somerville Planning Board discussed the question of whether MLM Realty will be permitted to subdivide the lot at One Benton Road, where The Giobbe House formerly stood, into two parcels in order to build a second three-condo structure. As I mentioned in a former blog entry, the position of the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission, as well as a number of Somerville residents, is that the renovated house at One Benton Road demonstrates wanton disregard for the preservation of the character and history of the neighborhood.

The Somerville News blog reports that at the May 6 Planning Board meeting, aldermen and residents raised the issue that increased traffic at the site poses a potential danger to children walking to and from nearby St. Catherine's School. Design Consultants Incorporated presented a traffic study that was deemed irrelevant by board member Michael A. Capuano (not to be confused with Congressman Michael E. Capuano) due to the fact that it was conducted at a time of day during which the traffic problem in question was not an issue.

Despite the measures city and state officials are now taking in an attempt to control the chaos generated by the runaway greed responsible for this whole debacle, the outlook appears grim. There will be a May 20 Traffic Commission meeting during which the traffic concerns will be discussed, but board member Dana LeWinter is quoted in the Somerville News as saying, "We can't deny (the permit) unless there are intractable concerns. I want to know what possible mitigation measures there might be." The Somerville News does not mention Mayor Joe Curtatone in its article; all I know is that the March 22, 2010 document recommending conditional approval to MLM for the subdivision of the lot is on his letterhead.

At this point, making contact with your Alderman or -woman, the mayor, and the congressman by phone or e-mail are good options to voice your concerns about this project. Also, Attorney Richard G. Di Girolamo, located at 424 Broadway, Somerville 02145, who is listed as the agent for MLM Realty Trust on the above-referenced document, can be reached at 617-666-8200. Lastly, the May 20 Traffic Commission meeting is open to the public, so show up if you can. If enough people get vocal about this, it will be more difficult for MLM to continue to develop in the irresponsible fashion that characterized the renovation of The Giobbe House. As a community, I think we owe it to ourselves to make this process as difficult for MLM as possible, based on the complete lack of respect they've shown us. They haven't succeeded yet, and until they get full approval from the city, there's still time to fight.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who signed the petition and posted comments here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

From what I read in the News, Dana LeWinter's comments mirrored what the city solicitor said the law was. And, I believe Michael A. Capuano is the Congressman's son. I've been following the Planning Board meetings for a while, and Capuano (and Linda Bohan before him) is consistently the only one speaking and voting AGAINST developers instead of coddling them.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, Michael A. Capuano is Micahel E. Capuano's son. I think his comments about the traffic study make it pretty obvious that he's dissatisfied with it and not in favor of the project. As to Ms. LeWinter, "just" parroting the city solicitor hardly shows support for those constituents in opposition to the continuance of development at One Benton Road. In fact, it sounds like she's in favor of it and in seeking "mitigation measures," she's trying to help push it through.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has any action been taken on this? I have not seen any updates on DSLJ lately.

4:30 PM  

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