JPNC Zoning Committee Approves Two Projects at Latest Meeting

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council (JPNC) Zoning Committee met virtually on April 29, where two projects were discussed, one at 373 S Huntington Avenue and one at 54 Danforth Street.

The project at 373 S Huntington Ave. was a proposal to change the occupancy from an office to an office and one residential unit, “to correct error in 2017.”

Architect Alfonso Sira said that the first level  will be used as a medical office, and the second level and the upper level will be used as a residential unit. “There’s really nothing being done to the building,” he said.

Building owner Jose Ruano said he has owned the propoerty for 17 years, and wants his college-aged daughters to live in the residential portion, while his medical office remans on the first floor. He said the upper unit has been empty for 17 years, and the “error” outlined in the scope of work is that it is listed as commercial on the first and second floor.

Ruano said that there was once a kitchen on the upper level that was converted into a lab, but is in need of a stove to become a working kitchen. He said there are two bathrooms and two means of egress, so the space meets requirements for a livable unit.

“This looks very much like it used to be a two family house,” architect and Zoning Committee member Kendra Halliwell said. “I support it going back to residential up above and office use down below.”

The Committee voted to approve this application, and it will be brought up at for a full vote at the Neighborhood Council hearing at the end of May, where the public is again invited to ask questions and make comments on the proposal.

At 54 Danforth St., owner Luiza Santos proposed to create an off-street parking space and new curb cut so she can park next to her house.

Santos bought the house at 54 Danforth St. last October, and said that the previous tenants had started work on paving what they wanted to be a driveway. She said her proposal was rejected by the Inspectional Services department because the regulation requires 18 feet, which she doers not have because her land ends five feet too soon.

She said that living right around the corner from Stonybrook Station on a street that does not have resident-only parking has made it difficult to find a place to park as commuters come and park their cars on Danforth St.

She said that the liquor store owner next door “doesn’t mind,” and she said that no neighbors came to the abutters meeting on March 16, which was held before the stay at home advisory went into effect.

There was some discussion about whether there was simple disinterest in this project from the neighbors, or if people were afraid of the virus so they didn’t attend the abutters meeting, that led into further discussion about signage and flyering and how abutters should be notified for JPNC Zoning Committee meetings.

A neighbor on Boylston St. who had known the previous owners said he opposes this proposal because the street is “very narrow, very difficult to navigate.” He said he was unable to make the abutters meeting because he works nights.

“The space I’m proposing isn’t actually the same one the previous owners had set up,” Santos said. She said that right now, her fence has an opening that’s at an angle, and the proposal is to have a nine food wide curb cut that would only take up one car space. It’s closer to her house and away from the bend in the street that causes a blind spot. The car would be parked right up against her house.

She said that both of her neighbors have one car garages, so she believes she should have a place to park her car as well.

Jerry O’Connor, who is on the Zoning Committee, said that “it looks to me like a one for one on street verses off street parking space,” and called it a “fine idea.”

Zoning Committee member Marie Turley said that “even though it’s a swap of one spot for one spot, it’s still a loss of a spot on the street,” which she said “can still cause concerns for the neighbors.”

The Zoning Committee voted to approve this proposal with one opposition and one abstention.

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