JPNC Zoning Committee hears four matters

     The JPNC Zoning Committee met virtually on April 20, where it discussed four matters: a proposal at 72 Hyde Park Ave. to raze the existing structure and build a six-unit residential building; a proposal at 11 Parkside Drive to create a second floor addition; a proposal at 51-53 Walk Hill Street to change the existing building from a single-family residence with an administrative office to a three-family building; and a proposal at 79 Perkins St. to change the occupancy from a three-family to a four-family residence.

72 HYDE PARK AVE.

     This was the third time this proposal had come before the committee, according to Zoning Committee Chair Dave Baron. The proposal now includes no off-street parking, but the proposal to demolish the existing structure and build a six-unit building remains.

     “People seemed to like the updates and changes the developer made to the project,” Baron said, one of which included getting rid of the garage door at ground level as well as removing all off-street parking from the proposal.

     JPNC member Omer Hecht said he supports this, especially because of the lack of parking.

     One direct abutter, identified as Tess, said she hadn’t seen the new plans prior to this meeting but an overview was shown and she said that “it looks much better than it did…I think it’s improved a lot.” Attorney Derric Small said he will remain in contact with her as the project moves forward.

     Other people also thanked the team for the changes made, and the committee voted to approve.

11 PARKSIDE DR.

     11 Parkside Dr. is a single-family home that is currently two stories on one side and only one story where the attached garage currently is.

     Owner Roya Khosravi-Far said that she wold like to build a master bedroom above the existing one car garage. In doing so, the one car garage will be turned into a two car garage and there will be an entrance for cars from the front rather than the side. The proposal also includes finishing a portion of the basement for office space.

     She said that a front porch will also be added so the depth of the house will be the same once the addition is built. Zoning violations include excessive Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and insufficient front yard, because the garage conversion will alter the depth of the front yard from 21.1 to 14.7 feet, according to a slide presented. The slide also stated that other homes on the street do have front yard depths that are less than 13 feet.

     After some more discussion, the committee voted to approve.

51-53 WALK HILL ST.

     Attorney Matt Eckel and architect Deven Riley-Marini spoke about the proposal at 51-53 Walk Hill St. to convert the existing single-family residence with administrative office to a three-family residence.

     Eckel said that the building was “purchased as a two-family,” but is allowed per the zoning code to be a single-family with administrative office.

     He said main changes include renovations to the interior and exterior of the building, including the construction of a matching dormer on the left hand side of the building, as one currently exists on the right hand side. The proposal also includes the demolition of the “dilapidated” detached garage in the rear of the building, where three parking spaces will be created.

     The existing mature tree will be kept, he said, and the front porch will be enclosed.

     Riley-Marini said that the existing basement has some storage and a bathroom, but it is only partially finished. There is also an existing bathroom on the third floor with the dormer, but that space is also only partially finished.

     The basement will “stay common and unfinished” as part of the project, she said. Unit 1 will be about 1,038 square feet, and will have two bedrooms and two full bathrooms as well as use of the rear deck.

     Unit 2 will be about 1,127 square feet and have three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as the use of a rear deck.

     Unit 3 will be about 1,054 square feet and will also have two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

     Committee member Kendra Halliwell asked about mechanical equipment and trash, saying she would not like to see either of these things in the front yard.

     The team said that they could commit to storing trash in the rear and also not having mechanicals in the front. Eckel also said there is potential for plantings to hide trash bins as well.

     Several abutters spoke in favor of the project, saying that it will be an improvement over what is there now and the addition of more housing is welcome.

     The committee voted to approve.

79 PERKINS ST.

     This project had come before the committee last year, and owner Christopher Page, who lives down the street at 67 Perkins St., presented a proposal to create a new unit in the basement of the existing three-family at 79 Perkins St. to make the building a four-unit building.

     He said that the “envelope of the building is not changing,” but he has made some changes to the front and rear entry for this unit, including the removal of a previously proposed partition wall, which will let in more natural light. He said the lack of light in the unit was one of the complaints last time.

     The previous proposal was for a three bedroom unit, but now it’s being proposed as a two bedroom unit and the space where the third bedroom was is proposed as a dining area instead.

     He also proposed a third window in the kitchen area for more light, as well as a few other tweaks.

     “I can’t see that much light will be coming in with cars parked in the driveway,” said committee member Peg Preble.

     “You’d be surprised by the amount of light that comes in with just two windows,” Page said.

     There was also a lot of talk about the cars being parked by the window and how the exhaust might affect the occupants of the unit.

     Page said that his desire to construct this unit is so that two of his children can remain in the city where they work at an affordable rate.

     “I am very much opposed to this project,” said committee member Kevin Moloney, who is also a member of the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA), which had voted against this project when it had come before that organization. Moloney said he believed that there was “no argument that would qualify legally for a variance.”

     There was also a conversation at length about the sprinkler system to be used in the unit. Other concerns included traffic and parking pressure on the street.

     Committee member David Seldin said that he saw “a lot of letters of support” for this project, though he does recognize that the JPA had opposed it. He said he is not sure why there is so much opposition to the project.

     A motion to deny this proposal failed, as three voted in favor of the motion, three voted against, and two abstained.

            “I think you should, to some extent, go back to the drawing board,” Baron suggested to Page, adding that he might want to go back before the JPA as well as hire an architect to ensure the plans are clear.

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