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City Council may oppose Flower Avenue East zoning change


Hedy M. Cirrincione may need to rely on St. Jude when she goes before the Watertown City Council to ask for a second zoning change for her Washington Street property, where she wants to open a medical uniform shop.

Council members agree with the city Planning Board’s unanimous decision Tuesday not to grant the zoning request to allow parking for the business on two nearby Flower Avenue East properties that abut her multi-unit apartment building at 703 Washington St.

Ms. Cirrincione, who recently put up a statue of St. Jude in the front yard of 703 Washington St., plans to ask the council to change the zoning for 108 and 112 Flower Ave. E. from residence C to neighborhood business district. The change would allow her to create enough parking for the retail shop she would call Scrubbs.

“I’m going to take it through the process,” she said. “I’m going to follow through with it.”

She previously got council members to grant another zoning request to change 703 through 719 Washington St. from limited business to neighborhood business district.

That decision so angered the Planning Board, which had recommended against the change, that a board member resigned, apparently as a show of displeasure. William R. “Randy” Fipps, who resigned from the Planning Board in a May 24 letter to Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham, did not return several phone calls to his home and office.

All three council members who supported Ms. Cirrincione’s earlier request — Mr. Graham and Councilwomen Roxanne M. Burns and Teresa R. Macaluso — said they intend to vote against the latest zoning change proposal. Without the additional parking, the project is dead.

“This is certainly a different situation than the first request that came before us,” Ms. Burns said.

Council members said putting parking spaces behind the Flower Avenue East buildings would infringe on the surrounding neighborhood.

At least three people who live on that street agreed, saying they don’t want any retail shops at that location and oppose parking spaces behind the apartment buildings for the proposed business.

“It’s a busy street as it is,” said Laureen H. Booth, who has lived at 136 Flower Ave. E. with her family for 13 years.

Ms. Burns contended Ms. Cirrincione should have worked out the parking issue for the project before she brought her proposal to the council May 7.

But Ms. Cirrincione said she originally planned to house the business at 715 Washington St., another apartment building she owns. She said she moved the project to 703 Washington St. only on the recommendation of the city’s building codes office, adding that 715 Washington St. had adequate parking.

“It was something they wanted us to do,” she said.

However, Shawn R. McWayne, the city’s code enforcement supervisor, said he gave Ms. Cirrincione some general information about building code requirements for a property that would include a business on the first floor and apartments on the upper floor. Mr. McWayne said he never suggested moving the project to 703 Washington St.

“I told her it was entirely up to her,” Mr. McWayne said.

Earlier this week, Planning Board members expressed anger at the council for ignoring their recommendation May 7 to keep 703 to 719 Washington St. as a limited business district. They said they were worried the zoning change would spur more retail businesses along Washington Street if the medical uniform business were allowed.

“I said there would be a ripple effect, and there is,” said Planning Board Chairwoman Sara S. Freda.

As for the original zoning request, the three who voted for it said they believed Ms. Cirrincione made a good case that Washington Street has changed over the years from a residential neighborhood to an area that now has many medical and professional offices, so the medical uniform business would fit in with its surroundings.

“She made a good presentation. It made good sense,” Mr. Graham said, adding the issue “has gotten to be nasty politics.”

Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr., who voted against the first zoning change, said he hasn’t changed his mind on how it would affect the neighborhood.

Ms. Macaluso said council members did not make their original decision to pick a fight with the Planning Board. They voted that way on the merits of that particular situation.

“It bothers me that they were upset about it,” she said.

In explaining the St. Jude statue she put up in the yard, Ms. Cirrincione said she wanted to honor her deceased friend, Ronald J. Anzalone, who died of cancer in 2010 at the age of 78. St. Jude is the Catholic patron saint “of lost causes and cases despaired of.”

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