Woody’s Will Hold: A Public Meeting on Expansion Plans

December 2, 2011
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The controversial plan to add a takeout pizza parlor to Woody’s Liquors on Saratoga Street gained momentum over the past two weeks according to the Boston Licensing Board without the knowledge of the community or East Boston’s city councilor.

Woody’s has filed for a common victuallers (CV) license with the city to open a takeout pizzeria and plans to subdivide the building that houses Woody’s and use a separate address on Barnes Avenue that will serve as the pizza shop’s location.

The lawyer for Woody’s, North End Attorney Daniel Toscano, will hold an abutters meeting at the East Boston Yacht Club on Thursday, December 1 at 7 p.m. to pitch the plan to residents who have been vehemently opposed to the plan.

Woody’s is scheduled for a hearing on its CV license to open a pizzeria at the Licensing Board on Wednesday, December 7.

Toscano has not briefed City Councilor Sal LaMattina on the new plan according to LaMattina. However, he has told other elected officials like Senator Anthony Petruccelli that he feels his client does not need zoning relief for the subdivision.

“I have not seen the new plan so I have no idea what they need,” said LaMattina when asked about the upcoming meeting. “I have no position because I have to see what the community thinks of the new proposal.”

LaMattina said he would not attend Thursday’s meeting because he has a scheduling conflict and will instead attend a Charlestown community meeting that night. He added that staffer Stephen Passacantilli, his North End liaison, would go in his place instead of his usual East Boston liaison Camilo Hernandez.

For his part, Senator Anthony Petruccelli said he still opposes the project unless residents jump up and down over the new plan.

“I suspect that is not going to be the case and if the opposition is out in full force there will be more focus on the community process here than the actual proposal,” said Petruccelli.

Basile also said he was still in opposition to a pizzeria there unless the new plan was accepted by the community.

People in the neighborhood are already complaining about the community process because many neighbors along Bayswater Street and St. Andrews Road long opposed to the plan did not receive flyers alerting them to Thursday’s meeting.

Residents like Michael Venuti, a direct abutter, Lou Ricci, a Bayswater Street resident and Margie Arrigo, of St. Andrews Road only heard about the abutters meeting through the grapevine.

“I had no idea about the meeting,” said Ricci who lives directly across the street from Woody’s. “I did not even know where it was being held until I talked to some neighbors who heard it from others.”

Arrigo said her and her husband, George, plan to attend Thursday’s meeting but worried other neighbors, many elderly like Ricci and Venuti, would be unable to get to the East Boston Yacht Club Thursday night. The Yacht Club is a mile away from Ricci and Venuti’s homes and the two previously opposed Woody’s plan for a pizzeria.

“Previous meeting were held at St. Lazarus Hall, at Woody’s and the Orient Heights Yacht Club right down the street,” said Arrigo. “Now they expect many of our seniors that live right next door to Woody’s to somehow get themselves over to the East Boston yacht Club Thursday night.”

Mary Berninger, a St. Andrews Road resident who still opposes the plan and did not receive a flyer about Thursday’s meeting, said the process has been flawed.

“Something here stinks,” said Berninger. “The attorney has known he’s going for the CV license for two weeks and they decide to flyer only part of the neighborhood on the Saturday after Thanksgiving about a meeting coming up in less than a week.”

Toscano had previously withwithdrawn plans to build the takeout pizzeria inside Woody’s due to overwhelming opposition from neighbors at a Boston Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing back in June.

The hearing came after Eastie’s three elected officials hosted a precinct-wide meeting at the Orient Heights yacht Club to get the pulse of the neighborhood on the pizzeria plan. There abutters expressed their concerns about the project and the type of neighbor Woody’s owner, John Wood, had been in the past.

All three said they would have opposed the plan if Toscano had not withdrawn the plan and went forward at the ZBA. The Mayor’s Office was also opposed to the plan.

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