SNA votes to deny proposal at 15 Meehan St. 

The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association (SNA) met virtually on May 9, where the group denied a proposal at 15 Meehan St., and discussed committee updates.

15 MEEHAN ST.

SNA Steering Committee member Jonathan McCurdy said that this is the second time the applicant has presented the proposal for this lot. There has not been an official SNA subcommittee for this proposal, and an “informal group of abutters” has been in contact with the development team regarding concerns.

Attorney Ryan Spitz said that “…this property is a vacant existing two-family home,” and the proposal is to renovate the building and increase the living space inside the existing building.

There are four zoning violations, three of which Spitz said are “pre-existing nonconformities:” insufficient rear yard, insufficient side yard, and excessive Floor Area Ratio, as well as “conformity of the exterior building alignment.”

Architect Andrea Brue showed the plans for the building, which include an overhand on the front and additions on the back. There will be a new front porch from which both units will be accessed.

“Our proposal maintains the footprint of the building with the exception of the porches,” Brue said. “We’re planning to drop the floor of the existing basement by about two feet.”

On the north side of the building, three existing windows will be removed to make the wall fire compliant, but windows will be added on the opposite side of the building. A spiral staircase will be constructed in the back.

There were several concerns from SNA members, including Patty Yehle, who expressed concern about the building being on the market right now.

Spitz confirmed that the property is currently on the market. “The owner, Pierre [Joas], hasn’t made any sort of commitments as to selling the property,” he said. “He’s just keeping his options open. Right now, he has every intention of seeking this entire proposal and constructing the building per the plans.”

Yehle said, “It’s been sitting there neglected,” referring to the building. “It’s a fire hazard.”

Spitz said “We totally get your concerns and you have every right to feel that way.” He said that he is aware that a fire notice had been issued, and that second floor windows had to be boarded up and bags of leaves had to be removed from the property. 

Abutter Jenny Nathans said that “the sign on the outside of the building with the X means it is not safe for first responders to enter the building. That was explained to me directly by the firefighter.”

SNA Steering Committee member Paige Sparks said that she had hoped for “more interaction” between the project team and the neighbors, and that she wishes there were more housing proposed as part of the project. She said she would vote to oppose it.

McCurdy showed photos of the building’s existing conditions. The front door is currently boarded up, and he said the building has been in its current state for more than a year. “It was basically gutted and stripped and sort of left in this condition,” he said. 

“There is an open window that is :fully accessible,” and maintenance on the building “has been very minimal.” Though he said the owner has responded when people have contacted him, “I don’t feel like this is very neighborly.”

McCurdy continued, “In regards to the building itself, I don’t feel like there was a lot of compromise from the development team.” He said he did not like the proposed additional height, especially next to the building to the right, which is very close to this building.

The shadow studies also show that light will be blocked on that building, McCurdy said. 

“This building is a historic building,” he said. “I could see using the shell of the building,” adding that he thinks the two units would be “plenty big enough” without the addition of extra height. 

Jennifer Uhrhane said that she doesn’t think selling the building is “Plan B” for the developer. “It sounds like Plan A,” she said. The price of the house has gone down since it has been on the market, which she believes means there’s “more of an intention to sell than build.”

Uhrhane also discussed the proposed design of the building, which she and others said has not changed from the original proposal except for a new cornice and a roof deck. 

 “I don’t think there’s anything positive about this project,” she said.

Spitz said that some neighbors have expressed concerns about “materials and colors,” and said that the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) would have the final say on colors and materials.

“I hear everyone’s concern about the timing of it,” said Pierre Joas, owner of the property. “We’re in the middle of a refinance. As it stands right now, if I sell it at what it’s listed for, it’s not profitable at all.” He said that as developers, they have to respond to investors and this project has taken “a lot longer than anyone expected.” 

McCurdy said, “If he’s not making money, that’s not our issue.”

The SNA ultimately voted 10 to one to three to oppose this proposal as presented.

SOUTHWEST CORRIDOR EXTENSION

SNA member Fred Vetterlein spoke about the Southwest Corridor Extension project, saying that he and others have been speaking with the MBTA about the idea and the work that has been done for the past decade. 

“For a website, we have been offered use of the Southwest Corridor Conservancy as well as the Southwest Corridor Park Management Advisory Council (PMAC).” He said “our goal all along is to have DCR take control of this little piece of land,” and they are trying to schedule a walkthrough of the property and are making attempts to gather more information. The committee for this project is looking for more people to get involved as well, Vetterlein said.

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