The noise from continual drilling at a construction site on Lamartine Street has frustrated the neighborhood for more than 12 weeks, many residents report.
The soundtrack of Jamaica Plain's Stony Brook valley. All day, every day, for 11 weeks, starting at 7 a.m. Pneumatic chipping of a bedrock ledge to make way for condos. @universalhub @wutrain @Ruthzee @mfflaherty @juliaforboston @CllrKendraLara@ErinforBoston pic.twitter.com/uCZmwFrYvr
— Jacob Turcotte (@jacobturcotte) May 27, 2022
The construction is to create four separate buildings with three units each at 279 Lamartine St., according to a building permit provided by Inspectional Services Department (ISD). The site is layered with puddingstone, which can only be removed either by using explosives or chipping away with a hammer bit.
"Unfortunately, the second method can be disruptive, but is the only feasible manner in which to remove the subsurface elements that are present, hence the need to change the hours of operation," said Lisa Timberlake, ISD spokesperson.
Construction began on January 16 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day); hours of operation were altered in June, when the city reduced work hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Decibel levels are exempt from the city's noise ordinance on construction sites inside the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to city personnel.
Trais Pearson's home abuts the construction site, and he said the noise and dust continue to plague his family. Pearson previously sued the city and a prior owner of the property after the city granted numerous variances. That lawsuit was dismissed after the previous developer filed a motion two days before trial that legally gave up the variances approved by Boston's Zoning Board of Appeals.
That developer sold the property a year later. The current owner of the property is listed as Lamartine Quattro Realty LLC, according to the city's Assessing Department. Jamaica Plain News did not receive a reply from the lawyer whose contact information is provided on a banner at the construction site.
Pearson said the current contractor received a special permit to begin work on a holiday. On that first morning, his two children came into his bedroom at 7 a.m. after three excavators were operating under flood lamps about 10 feet from the house, he said. No advance notice was provided that construction was about to begin, and that work began an hour earlier than the holiday permit allowed and went later than permitted, he said. He called the police, and said to his knowledge no citation was issued.
Since then, the sound of the pneumatic hammer has been going five days a week, he said.
"I work from home, so I've endured every minute of the hammering, but there was a stretch when my [3-year-old] daughter was home sick from daycare and couldn't nap because the sound is just incessant and inescapable," Pearson said. His son was woken at 7 a.m. on a recent morning to a new sound, and his bedroom smelled like smoke after a diesel generator was placed about 12 feet from his window, he said.
Pearson and other neighbors have filed 311 complaints with the city.
The site has been visited by and ISD inspector on multiple occasions, Timberlake said. She added that ISD received notice that the contractor began working at 6:58 a.m. on May 27, and not 7 a.m., and an ISD deputy building commissioner visited the site and discussed appropriate start and end times with the contractor.
The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) reviewed complaints regarding dust, and health inspectors visited the site on June 6 and June 10.
"BPHC inspectors have visited the site and worked with contractors to prevent work-related dust from spreading into the nearby residential areas," said Jon Latino, BPHC media relations manager. BPHC health inspectors are also actively working with contractors on site to suppress work-related dust. The Environment Department was to review noise complaints as well. Dave Vittorini, senior advisor to Mayor Michelle Wu, also got involved to help.
we’re in the FOURTH MONTH of this. How can a developer operate a rock quarry in the middle of a residential neighborhood for MONTHS?! We have received no help or support from the city where we live and pay taxes. Aside from they limited this to 7 hours a day vs ten. yay?!? pic.twitter.com/s19M2Nrjk4
— Emily ✨ ABOLISH POLICE 🖤✨ (@emilyrm) June 8, 2022
They also brought in a second hammer. Measured consistent noise over 87dB inside my house today. Thanks for shaving an hour off the hammering, tho. When’s it going to end?
— Douglas Holmes (@dpholmes) June 2, 2022
Good news, they've arrived with the new much larger, louder hammer. Still quite a lot of cliff to get through, it seems pic.twitter.com/Z0AGH2XAxk
— Jacob Turcotte (@jacobturcotte) June 1, 2022
I think we’ve been subjected to approximately 520 hours of this sound, intermittently, over the past 12 weeks. This exceeds OSHA noise guidelines for a safe workplace. And it’s not a steel mill, it’s a bunch of families’ homes
— Jacob Turcotte (@jacobturcotte) June 3, 2022
The developer brought in another machine to try to expedite the excavation in early June, according to city personnel. Construction will continue, with personnel having communicated to neighbors that the site cannot be left as is, where no parties are satisfied with it in its current state.
But Pearson disagrees, "They are wrong. This is unreasonable and unconscionable."