“This Is Not a Do-Over” Union St. Architectural Conservation District Still Pending With BLC

At the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) hearing on Feb. 22, the Commission provided a chance for the proponent of a petition to create an Architectural Conservation District for Union Street in Charlestown to give the presentation once again, as the owner of 8 Lawrence St. said he was not notified about the hearing in August of last year when the BLC voted to accept the petition for further study.

“It came to our attention that the owners of the property did not have sufficient time to be allowed to attend and participate in that preliminary hearing,” said Lynn Smiledge, chair of the BLC.

“This is an opportunity for the proponent of this district to present for the second time.” No commissioner or public comment was taken, as “this is a pending architectural conservation district.”

Ronald Kulich, owner of 30 Union St., provided what he called an “abbreviated presentation,” and went through the history of the architecture on Union St. He said that “dozens of abutters” have shown support for the conservation of the historic nature of the only two properties in question as part of the proposed conservation district: 8 Lawrence St. and 30 Union St.

Patrick Sweeney, an attorney on behalf of Nestor Limas of 8 Lawrence Street LLC, said that he was under the impression that the Feb. 22 hearing “was a start-over proposition,” and that his client was not properly notified about the original hearing.

“Unfortunately, despite Landmarks knowing that my client owned the property at 8 Lawrence, we were required to submit a form for thew change of ownership,” he said. “On June 23, Landmarks sent a letter to my client at his address,” though he said “we had no knowledge” because he said that the notice for the hearing had been sent to the previous owner.

In December, Sweeney said he put in a Freedom of Information Act request with the city in “12 different areas,” two for the Inspectional Services Department and the remaining 10 to the Landmarks Commission. He said he has not received the public records he asked for.

Rosanne Foley, Executive Director of the Boston Landmarks Commission, said that “we took the time to upload every single record you asked for,” and upon hearing he had not received them, told Sweeney that the BLC “will make sure you get them as quickly as possible. We provide every person who asks for records records as quickly as we can in accordance with the law,” she said.

“We’re in a situation where one hearing was held with notice given to the prior owner at the address of the property with full knowledge that my client was the owner,” Sweeney said.

“I’m very sorry for this lack of communication,” Smiledge said, but reiterated that Tuesday’s hearing “is not a do-over. We’re not able to do that. I thought that was made very clear to the owners and the petitioners tonight. This is not something we can remedy to your satisfaction tonight,” since the property has already been accepted as a pending landmark and more process is needed to make it an actual landmark.

Foley said that “our usual practice is to notify the owner that is listed in assessing. It wasn’t until there was an issue with the new owner saying they didn’t know about the petition that this was re-publicized so they would have their opportunity to speak.”

Nestor Limas stated that “I was not noticed properly,” and said that the “evidence is very clear that they had my address.” He continued, “there’s an issue of the legitimacy of that meeting.”

Smiledge said that though she believes further discussion on this matter is necessary, this particular hearing is not the forum to have that conversation.

Sweeney said that though “I understand your position now,” he doesn’t believe it is “supported by the law.”

No further action was taken on the matter at this hearing.

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