JP Neighborhood Council Zoning Committee discusses two projects

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee met virtually on February 2, where two matters were discussed: one at 41 Cornwall St. to construct new dormers on the roof, and one at 72 Hyde Park Ave. to raze the existing two family building and construct a six unit building in its place.


       At 41 Cornwall St., owner Francisco Skelton proposed to build new dormers on the roof of the property so he can have more room in the bedrooms upstairs. Skelton explained that the house had been hit by lightning, causing a fire.

       Prior to the fire, the roof had a dormer on either side of the roof with one window on each, but the proposed dormers will have three windows on each.

       The house is currently unoccupied because these renovations need to be completed before it can be re-occupied. Skelton had lived in the second floor unit (which also includes the third floor/attic), and said he plans to move back in once the renovations are complete. He rents out the first floor unit.

       The attic level previously had bedrooms and a bathroom, which will be made slightly larger because of the dormers.

       Skelton said that an abutters meeting was held. Community member Omer Hecht said he lives on the block but did not receive a leaflet for the abutters meeting, though he said he supports the project.

       JPNC member Bernie Doherty said, “I’m in full support of what he’s proposing here.”

       Brian Chaisson, a resident on Cornwall St., said that he is also in support, as the owner is not proposing to extend the house’s footprint or adding any rooms that did not exist before, nor is he “adding any parking problems.

       Several other neighbors spoke in support of the proposal as well, including Diane Simpson of the Brookside Neighborhood Association.

       The committee voted to approve the proposal.


       Attorney Derric Small discussed a proposal for a three story, six unit residential building at 72 Hyde Park Ave., which would take the place of an existing two unit building.

       Small said that there are “a number of other six unit dwellings on this street.”

       The proposed building would also have six parking spaces in an underground garage that would be accessed via Hyde Park. Ave. There would also be decks off the rear.

       Small also talked about the zoning variances that would be needed, as the project has been cited by the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) for insufficient off street parking, excessive Floor Area Ratio (FAR), number of stories (which Small said he thinks was a mistake), and insufficient side yard setback.

       The building is 80 feet, four inches long from front to back, the team said. An abutters meeting was held, where Small said a neighbor expressed desire to save one of the trees on the property. “That was pretty much the main concern,” he said.

       Zoning Committee member Kevin Leary asked about the materials for the facade of the building, as it “looks very industrial,” he said.

       Small said that plank siding will most likely be used, as the “BPDA won’t allow certain materials to be used on buildings,” so there will be “no aluminum siding or anything like that.”

       Architect David Choi said that the goal is to “make it look as residential as possible,” and ensured Leary that it will not look industrial.

       Zoning Committee member David Seldin said that “it is a massive structure,” and he said because the neighboring buildings were not shown in the renderings, it is hard to tell how the building will affect the neighbors.

       “I think your comment is well taken,” Choi said. He said that the scale is something the team will take a look at, and he did want to hear input from neighbors.

       Committee member Bernie Doherty said he agreed with Seldin, saying that the “building is just put on this property” and “leaves very little room on the side of the building.”

       He also said that “the square footage is huge…” and “I am personally opposed to this and mainly for that reason.”

       Committee member Kevin Moloney said that “I’m not prepared to vote favorably on this until and unless” renderings are provided that show the building in context with those that surround it.

       Omer Hecht said that “the properties along side this have similar very minimal setbacks.” He added that “I don’t see this being egregious…I think this does give the community something, which is very important.” He said the addition of four units to the neighborhood is a positive, and he is in support of the proposal.

       Neighbor Ken Pope said that “that building is way too long in terms of the neighboring buildings which are both six families.” He added that “it is too big and too much.”

       Small said that no neighbors from the buildings on the left or the right of this property came to the abutters meeting. Pope said that “most of those are rentals.”

            The committee chose not to take a vote on this proposal, and Small said “we’ll go back, we’ll convene, and then we’d like to come back” with a revised proposal.

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