By Donald Norton
The City of Somerville Planning Board voted 4-1 at their meeting last Thursday in favor of the proposal by Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) and developer Cathartes Private Investments to build a five-story housing complex at 181 Washington St.
During the previous week’s proceedings it appeared that the Board might not have had the 4 votes necessary to approve the proposal, and they gave the developer and SCC a week to work out a compromise with the local residents.
It appeared that Cathartes, in conjunction with SCC, agreed to scale down from the original proposal of 84 units with 40 of them going to SCC and the private developer building 44 at market rate. The new proposal that was submitted before the board Thursday night called for 35 units to be built by SCC as affordable housing as the private developer settled for 39 units at market rate with 5 of them going to affordable housing according to Somerville’s regulations.
The new total is 74 units that will occupy the site of the former Boys & Girls Club, originally built as the Pope School in the 1960’s, on the corner of Boston Street and Washington Street.
A strong showing of Somerville Community activists was present inside the Aldermanic Chambers, as well as many local neighbors and concerned citizens.
The Planning Board members thanked the developers for making changes, and after brief discussion of the changes and some bloviating by members, the vote was taken and 4 members voted in favor of the development while one member, James Kirylo, although praising the developers still felt it could have been more.
After the vote, many who were there for both sides were very emotional and there seems to be a possibility that this may not be the end of it. There was some talk of pursuing the vote of acceptance in the courts.
The Planning Board also took up the vote on the Temple and Broadway Winter Hill proposal and, after the developer made some changes in both height and count, the Board voted unanimously in favor of the proposal. The development will be a mixed-use property with storefronts and units up above. It was generally agreed that this would enhance the Winter Hill area.