Letter to the Editor

Takes issue with proposed construction on Marlborough Street

Dear Editor:

362 Marlborough proposes:

construction of a one-story rear yard brick addition with a garage door, pedestrian door and roof-top deck, which would require destruction of portions of historic façade and removal of a beautiful and healthy mature flowering dogwood tree;  construction of a main roof deck on a story that is an addition.

I am writing to oppose all of these alterations, as they would violate district Guidelines:

REAR YARDS

PURPOSE  These guidelines are designed to encourage alterations which facilitate the service function of the alleys while enhancing their residential character, to remove inappropriate additions, to restore historic or characteristic architectural features, to encourage landscaping, and to improve visual quality.

DESIGN CRITERIA Removal or replacement of inappropriate structures is encouraged and shall be reviewed the commission. Building alterations shall be consistent in scale, form, proportion, detail, material, and color with the characteristic architecture of the residential district.    Alterations which compound or perpetuate inappropriate structures, or which remove historic features or landscaping are inappropriate.

INAPPROPRIATE ADDITIONS Inappropriate additions include the following: additions more than one story in height, additions on top of existing additions or ells, freestanding accessory structures, stacked decks, carports, and canopies.

ROOFS

ROOFTOP ADDITIONS In determining the appropriateness of an addition, the commission will take into

consideration its visibility from any public way along direct and oblique sight lines, as well as scale, proportions, materials and design.   Original roof configurations and the dominance of historic cornice lines shall be maintained on both the front and rear elevations. Rooftop mechanical equipment and elevator overrides shall be incorporated into the volume of any proposed addition.

INAPPROPRIATE ADDITIONS Additions to buildings distinguished by complex roof forms and additions to comer buildings are discouraged. Additions to pre-existing addition, multi-story additions, and roof decks on top of roof additions are inappropriate.

ROOF DECKS Visibility of decks from any public way shall be minimal. Roof decks should he set back (-) the inward edge of the chimneys and kept as close to the roof as possible. Railings should be ornamental iron. Permanent opaque elevations such as screening and planters should not exceed railing height and should not be visible from public way.

Therefore, all these proposed alterations — the decked garage structure (which would destroy the historic rear façade architecture at basement level), the main roof deck, and the removal of the dogwood, are not in compliance with the Guidelines and should not be approved.

Per the Guidelines, the Commission has not allowed a new garage structure to be located at or near a corner.  This approval would not only be detrimental to this streetscape, but also set an undesirable precedent.

A deck at the first floor level along the street is unprecedented, and would appear to be as uncomfortable for the users as for the neighbors. It is probably just there to fulfill the open space requirement, but the 50 sf requirement for the single family to which this will be converted would be met by the front setback and the large window balcony.

The proposed main-roof deck, in its design, also may violate the district Guidelines requiring setbacks for visibility purposes.  A mock-up should be built to show the visibility of the proposed deck railing from Marlborough Street and from Commonwealth Avenue.

In addition to violations of the Guidelines, the proposal violates the zoning limit of three parking spaces per dwelling unit.

I urge the Commission to protect the historic fabric of the district and deny the alterations proposed for this building and the similar ones proposed for 352 Marlborough, which would be, and set precedents for, entirely inappropriate alterations.  Promoting the economic development of the district should be done by protecting the invaluable historic architecture and landscape for the ultimate benefit of all, rather than by permitting each individual owner to maximize his/her own financial interests regardless of impacts to the streetscape and to the neighbors.  The latter course would mean the end of the historic district as we know it.

Shirley Kressel

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