JPA Wants to See Different Design for 22 Castleton St. Proposal

The Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) met virtually on February 1, where members discussed a zoning matter at 22 Castleton St. to change the occupancy of the building from a two to a three family by creating a new third floor unit in the attic with dormers, and add an additional rear access.

Anita Lauricella, the owner of 22 Castleton St., said she has owned this building since 1991 and that her unit “is a little large for me,” as it’s just her and her dog. She has been a landlord for the first floor unit, she added.

She said she has began to think about her options upon retirement and how she could stay in this house.

“I started looking around in the neighborhood and kind of quickly realized that I couldn’t afford to stay in the neighborhood if I wanted to,” she said.  “My objective is to stay in my house.”

She explained that Castleton St. is a sort of mishmash of different kinds of homes from single families to triple deckers, and there are “many dormers,” she said.

“The project is to create a third floor unit that I would live in,” she said, that would include three dormers at the top and a new staircase to replace the existing one that is narrow and not to code.

The front of the building would feature a doghouse dormer but no other changes would be made to the front facade. She said the larger of the dormers is on the shared driveway side that includes a “small setback to accommodate a skylight that’s on the second floor.”

The new unit would be about 580 square feet, Lauricella said. 

The project would need variances for insufficient off-street parking, the use is forbidden (as this area is zoned for two family), excessive Floor Area Ratio, excessive stories, insufficient side yard, and insufficient off-street parking.

JPA member Franklyn Salimbene said that he doesn’t have any issues with the front dormers, as it “matches what the neighbors are doing,” but he said the side dormer is “lengthy.” He also wondered about the height of the dormer.

Lauricella said that the “purpose of going above the height is for light purposes,” as there is “no good way to get light coming in from that direction.”

Architect Robert Lauricella said that the way the dormer is designed “allows it to get light on both sides of the kitchen and bedroom spaces.” He said it could have been done as a gable, but it would be “tougher to do structurally.”

JPA member Kevin Moloney said that in his “own personal opinion,” he was “struck by the fact that it seems inconsistent with the design of the house.” JPA member Michael Reiskind added that he would like to see the new windows line up with the existing ones on the building.

Anita Lauricella said that neighbors both to the left and the right have expressed support for the project, as have other neighbors.

Several other neighbors came to the meeting to express their support. Michele Lepietre said that “this is a very, very steady neighborhood,” and that people do want to stay in their houses. She said she believes that aesthetics are a “subjective call, especially in this neighborhood,” adding that she does not have issues with the proposed design.

Another neighbor said he also liked the design and the issue of insufficient off-street parking is “inconsequential” and “nothing to worry about.”

Salimbene said he is “troubled by the number of violations,” and more discussions about aesthetics and the dormers ensued.

A motion was made not to oppose this project that received three votes in favor, three in opposition, and five abstentions, so the motion did not pass.

Moloney said that the “general consensus” was that most members of the JPA are “not opposed to three units in the building,” but rather “relatively uncomfortable with the present design.”

Anita Lauricella said that “I need to talk to my architect and see what it means for the inside of the space,” and was invited back to the next meeting to discuss a different design for a vote.

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