Unneighborly? Putnam Hill, Putnam Park Residents Object to Neighbor-to-Neighbor Building Proposal

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Rendering of proposed building to house Neighbor to Neighbor’s operations behind the Tomes Higgins carriage house, adjacent to Putnam Park and Putnam Hill.

An application from Neighbor to Neighbor to construct a 6,500 sq ft building on the property of Christ Church at 220 East Putnam Ave went before the Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night.

The application is for a preliminary site plan and special permit for a two-story building and 19 new parking spaces. Neighbor to Neighbor would lease the building, purpose built for their charity work, for 25 years.  The application does not include any demolition, and the construction method would be modular.

Neighbor to Neighbor

Putnam Hill and Putnam Park are located behind the proposed location for a dedicated Neighbor to Neighbor building. Credit: Leslie Yager

After many spoke of the need to get the 40-year strong non- profit that offers clothing and food to those in need out of the cramped basement space of the church annex, including executive director and the reverend Jennifer Owen, Assistant to the Rector at Christ Church, and Rich Granoff presented the rendering, the neighbors from Putnam Hill and Putnam Park reluctantly blasted the proposal.

While everyone spoke favorably of the non profit’s work, they expressed a host of concerns, including issues water and drainage, lost views, and lowering of property values.

Rich Granoff

Rich Granoff shows the proposed spot for the Neighbor to Neighbor building at the top of the rendering (behind the Tomes Higgins carriage house).

Starting with attorney Melissa Klauberg, representing neighbors, concerns were many.

Klauberg said that the building didn’t conform with the town’s POCD, pointing to issues with compatibility to the adjacent residential neighborhood. “They didn’t want the building too close to the Tomes Higgins House, but is it quite close to the Putnam Hill and Putnam Park properties,” she said.

One neighbor who described living in the summer on her patio and prizes her “bucolic” view. She said she anticipated her property values would go down if the Neighbor to Neighbor building were to be constructed.

Putnam Hill and Putnam Park

Putnam Hill and Putnam Park are located behind the proposed location for a dedicated building for Neighbor to Neighbor on the Tomes Higgins property. Credit: Leslie Yager

John Consadine of Putnam Park likened the building with its giant dumpster with “wet garbage” to living next to McDonald’s.  He said he anticipated loud noise generated by air conditioning units, and trucks coming and going. “We’re going to get that hum and bang forever,” he said.

The distance of the back of the building to the property line is 81 ft. Mrs. Ramer said it would be helpful to see a representation of the view of the proposed building from Putnam Park and Putnam Hill.

Charlotte Walker, president of Putnam Park Association, said that after rain a significant amount of water collects. She shared a photo showing flood conditions adjacent to their patios. She said the principal concern is the 6,500 sq ft size of the proposed building and the infrastructure required to support it, including new noise and impact from generators, air conditioners, traffic, delivery vehicles, loading dock, trash removal. “Their back is our front,” she pointed out.

containers for storage behind the Tomes Higgins House, used by Neighbor to Neighbor

Containers for storage behind the Tomes Higgins House, used by Neighbor to Neighbor

Tomes Higgins carriage houseThe Planning and Zoning commissioners agreed that there had been insufficient outreach to the neighbors. “We urge you. A lot of trouble has been taken to be sensitive to the Christ Church campus and not to be sensitive to the people around the campus,” said commissioner Alban. “It is very disappointing.”

The applicant, represented by Ted O’Hanlon, from Robinson & Cole,  said the applicant had attempted to reach out to the neighbors.”We certainly tried,” he said.

Mrs. Ramer suggested the building be moved, and not placed in a corner of the campus, and also consider reducing its size.

The applicant will return to the Planning & Zoning commission in January.


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