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BC neighbors want vote on new dorm delayed

Some neighbors of Boston College and a city councilor are urging the city to postpone a vote on the school’s plans to build a new dormitory on Commonwealth Avenue.

The residents fear that if the project is approved, they will lose leverage in their quest to reach a long-term deal with the university to provide community benefits.

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The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s board of directors is scheduled to vote Thursday night on BC’s proposal to build a six-story, 484-bed residence hall at 2150 Commonwealth Ave. The 245,000-square-foot building would also include new space for campus health services.

In seeking a two-week delay, some residents who live around the Chestnut Hill campus say they have not had enough time to weigh in on a community-benefits agreement that BC has proposed.

Bruce Kline, a member of a community task force appointed by the city to help oversee BC’s development proposals, said the BRA told residents about the scheduled board vote late last week. He said task force members then received an e-mail Wednesday morning with a list of development-
related community benefits proposed by BC and were told the list would be discussed at a task force meeting that night.

“Out of nowhere this pops up,” Kline said by phone.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Councilor Mark Ciommo, who represents Allston and Brighton, also called for a delay in the vote.

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“There’s no time for discussion,” Ciommo said. “It’s wrong and disrespectful to this task force.”

Ciommo and task force members said they do not want to delay the project and appreciate that BC drafted the list of community benefits. “But we can do more and we can do better,” task force member Rosie Hanlon said.

Among the benefits BC is offering, according to filings, are scholarships for local students and creation of a fund for community improvements, including parks and projects related to transportation.

Kairos Shen, the BRA’s chief planner, apologized for the short notice of the vote, but said the city and BC will work out details about the community benefits package in future meetings.

Tom Keady, vice president of governmental relations and community affairs at BC, who attended the meeting, also apologized for not getting a draft of the community benefits to residents sooner. He said BC had to first show it to city officials, which accounted for some of the delay.

He said BC believes that the community benefits are substantial and that the dorm project had received support from many neighbors and local legislators who want to see more BC students living on campus. But he said “the clock is ticking” on the project.

“If we do not move this project forward tomorrow at the BRA, it doesn’t happen in 2016,” he said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com.

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