Did political donations influence BRA?

Last week, residences of Jamaica Plain were left speechless after the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved plans to construct apartments at the former Home for Little Wanderers. The $75 million project, proposed by Boston Residential Group, was met with criticism over size and cost.

However, the Boston Herald now reports that the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s decision to approve the development may have been influenced by political donations made by developers of the controversial project.

Boston City Councilor Michael Ross received $2,000 in donations from the developer of the Jamaica Plain project. Ross claims he was unaware until yesterday of the $2,000 he received from developers because he keeps his campaign finances separate from City Hall business. Ross said he will return the donation immediately.

Furthermore, Mayor Thomas Menino also received a sizable donation of $10,000 dollars from the developer, but has made no indication of plans to return the money.

Benjamin Day, the chairman of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, comments, “The timing is very suspicious, and I think all of us in the community just couldn’t understand, with near-unanimous opposition, why it was moving forward fairly smoothly.”