Asks Court to Annul Decision and Reopen Public Hearing Process for Dorchester Development That Would Inhibit School Expansion and Harm Neighborhood
BOSTON (Jan. 12, 2024) – The Epiphany School, an accredited independent school for children of economically disadvantaged families in Dorchester, all of whom attend on scholarship, announced today it is seeking a judicial review of the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s approval of a massive housing project on an abutting property that will negatively affect the neighborhood and impede the school’s plans to expand and educate more students.
A civil complaint, filed in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston by the Sheehan Phinney law firm, states that the BPDA erroneously granted “blighted” status and zoning relief to the developer of 150 Centre St. in Dorchester. The developer plans to construct a four-story multifamily structure with 72 rental units.
“To deem a neighborhood with million-dollar Victorian homes, a modern independent school and a well-tended local business as blighted is faulty on its very face,” said Attorney Damon M. Seligson of Sheehan Phinney. “We seek to prove that this designation was used to wrongfully bypass important local input through the conventional zoning appeals process.”
Epiphany requests that the court annul the BPDA’s Nov. 16 decision and reopen the public hearing process for further review.
“During a highly problematic approval process, the BPDA made incorrect determinations and then simply rubber-stamped various zoning deviations without proper factfinding or consideration of the significant adverse effects of the project,” said Epiphany Head of School Rev. John Finley.
The BPDA overlooked the fact that Epiphany and other neighbors have put forward an alternative proposal for the project site near the T’s Shawmut Station, on land owned by an auto body shop. The school’s proposal has broad neighborhood support due to its more appropriate scale and because it combines affordable housing and homeownership along with space for school expansion, in part on an adjacent parking lot that it owns.
The complaint raises concerns about adverse impacts including disruption to students and educators at the school, an increase in traffic and congestion, and the overburdening of an easement that Epiphany had granted to the auto body shop.
The complaint also raised additional faulty process in the appointment of two members by the BPDA to the Impact Advisory Group established by the agency to assess the project. These appointees are commercial tenants of the developer, Trinity Financial, at other locations in Boston, whereas Epiphany’s Finley was not allowed on the IAG because of his school’s interests in the matter.
About the Epiphany School
Epiphany is an independent school for children of economically disadvantaged families in Boston with financial aid for all students. The school welcomes children of diverse faiths, races, cultures and cognitive profiles, believing in Episcopal tradition that we find God in and through each other. In close partnership with families and community partners, Epiphany is an innovative learning community offering structured support to enable children to discover and develop the fullness of their individual gifts and to help their families thrive. For more information, visit www.epiphanyschool.com.