BZA Denies Special Permit for Auto Repair at Tokyo

IMG_0104Plans to convert the former Tokyo restaurant on Fresh Pond Parkway to an auto repair garage were scuttled when the Board of Zoning Appeal denied the necessary special permit. The BZA voted unanimously to deny the applicant’s request for a change of use permit at its November 19th hearing. The future of the site is again up in the air.

The Tokyo property sits at a prominent gateway location within the Parkway Overlay District and the Planning Board had submitted a letter opposing the change of use. Several neighbors had questioned the proposed land use from a planning perspective.

Lakeview Avenue resident Roger Boothe, retired director of urban design at CDD, wrote:

The City’s longstanding planning and design objectives for the Parkway Overlay District are to create a more hospitable environment that would better link the residential neighborhood to the Fresh Pond Reservation. To that end, the zoning for the area allows residential and retail uses, with the expectation that redevelopment over time will make the parkway less dominated by the automobile and auto-related uses. Every project is required to have landscaped setbacks on the private edge of the public parkway. Auto uses are explicitly not allowed.

Several years ago, the City and the Commonwealth implemented a major renovation of the Parkway, putting in place historic 1907 lighting fixtures, pedestrian crossings, tree plantings and other landscaping. In the process, many incursions onto state property by auto-related uses were corrected, allowing for a better sweep of landscaping along the Parkway edge, and for safer curb cuts and sidewalks.

The petitioners would extend the unwanted auto uses in a location that should be residentially developed, perhaps with ground floor retail. At the Mobil station site, the petitioners have not respected their required landscaped setback, allowing cars to park there on many, many occasions. They have even parked on the Parkway landscaping itself from time to time, leaving ruts in the grass. So there is no reason to believe that they would be more sensitive to the Parkway setting on the site in question.

Thus, I would ask the Board to deny the proposed change of use, both in terms of the City’s vision for what the area should become and in light of the petitioner’s continuing disregard for the environment.

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