JPNC Zoning Committee approves three projects during virtual meeting

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee met virtually via Zoom on April 15, where three proposals were heard, one at 135 Carolina Ave., one at 24 Spalding Street, and one at 6-8 Wise St.

135 Carolina Ave. 

Patrick Byrne and his husband Stephen Williamson currently live at 135 Carolina Ave., but they would like to erect a rear addition so they can create a two bed, two bath unit for rental so they can move to the bottom unit and age in place. Currently, the downstairs unit is a rental.

The couple has lived in JP for 32 years, and are “very invested in the community,” Byrne said. “We want to live out our golden years in this house.”

The project is within rear setback limits, but violations include Floor Area Ratio (FAR), side yard, front yard, and lot size and width are insufficient. 

Bryne said that they have contacted 16 abutters and received 16 letters of support from immediate neighbors. 

“This is really a project which is intended to keep them in their house,” said attorney Cameron Merrill, adding that Byrne and Williamson are “longtime committed residents to the neighborhood.”

The property backs up to JPNDC’s Call Carolina development, and Bryne said that  they have received a letter of support from the JPNDC for the addition. “We gave them extensive support for their project,” he added.

Project architect Michael Kim said that since Byrne and Williamson own the abutting lot, they will be “encroaching on themselves.” The addition will consist of new kitchen, living, and dining rooms, and the bedroom area will remain in the existing part of the building. Materials used will be wood, clapboard, clad windows, and fiber cement. 

Zoning Committee member and architect Kendra Halliwell said that she is “completely in support of this” project, but added that the proposed trellis on the building is a “protrusion” 

The Zoning Committee voted to approve this project, and it will be taken to the full JPNC for a vote. 

24 Spalding St.

At 24 Spalding St., applicant David Steeves proposed to construct a three-family residence, with one unit for affordable housing, one three-bedroom for rent, and one for he and his family to live in. 

Currently, Steeves and his family live on the adjacent Rosemary St., where they have lived for 27 years, and remembers when Spalding “looped around and connected to Rosemary.”

Steeves said that they purchased the 5,000 square foot parcel at 24 Spalding St. from MassDOT, and a deed agreement made with MassDOT requires him to have an affordable unit in the new building.

The building will be “in keeping with the context of the neighborhood and the character and type of house” that currently exists on the street.

The first floor will be the owner-occupied unit, and will be modified to accommodate Steeve’s son, who uses a wheelchair. There will be an accessible ramp in the front, along with a driveway that has an accessible parking area.

The second floor unit will be the affordable unit, and the third floor will be the three bedroom unit.. The affordable unit will be at 80 percent of the Area Median Income, and will be a two bed, one bath.

The proposed FAR is 1.1, which is “in excess of the current zoning,” he said, but surrounding buildings have FARs of 1.08 to 1.09 “to 1.6 or so on the high end.” He said that .6 is required, but the average is about 1.29 for the neighborhood.

Matt Eckel of Drago and Toscano said that “technically a three-family is not allowed, but if we were one parcel over we would be.” 

Zoning Committee member and architect Kendra Halliwell said she “would like to see more detail in the exterior elevations in the cornice,” and she thinks the porch front should be looked at again, as she said that porch roofs in this neighborhood don’t typically wrap around the adjacent bay. She also suggested reducing the slope of the ramp so it is better incorporated into the building. 

“How do you get away with that unit being so small with such grand units above and below?” Zoning Committee Chair David Baron asked of the affordable unit. Halliwell was also concerned that the affordable unit does not have a living room. 

Eckel said that the BPDA does not have oversight of the size of the unit in this case, but in larger buildings he said that 13 percent of total square footage and units is the typical measurement, which this would fit into.

Steeves said that the same appliances and finishes are going to be put in all three units. 

Neighbor Mark Erickson said he believes this building is “too big for the neighborhood,” and he is also concerned about parking, “which has become more and more of a nightmare in this neighborhood.” 

The Zoning Committee voted to 5-4 to approve this project.

6-8 Wise St.

At 6-8 Wise St., the proposal was to combine two lots and construct a new building with six residential dwelling units. 

The existing building at 6 Wise St. would be torn down and replaced with a four story building. Several letters of support were submitted, some praising the modern design of the building, which includes metal cladding, composite siding, and aluminum clad windows. 

The project was approved with the proviso that there is an affordable unit at 80 percent AMI and the applicant was also encouraged to include ADA compliant ready accessibility on the first floor unit. 

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