The Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) on November 10 approved a homeowner’s request to install a Tesla charging station on the back facade of his building.
Evan Friedler, who lives at 402 Marlborough St., said that he is buying a Tesla and would like to install a charging station on the rear facade with “direct proximity” to his parking space. He proposed that it be mounted fairly low to the ground, and “we hope that the low mounting…will make it as visually unobtrusive as possible.”
Friedler said that the charging station only comes in a white acrylic color, and some Commissioners had suggestions for what could be done about that to make it blend in with the historic district. He added that a number of Back Bay residents are expected to purchase electric cars, which means they will have to go through similar approval for their charging stations.
Commissioner John Christiansen said that the applicant could ask Tesla if the station could be made in other colors, especially if other Back Bay residents are going to be purchasing the cars in the near future.
Commissioner Robert Weintraub said he did not believe that is a realistic expectation and “it’s a matter for a different time.”
He continued, “I don’t think he has a choice. He’s got to buy what they are providing if it only comes in one color. It is what it is. We can probably approach Tesla and advocate for our needs and wants but that is certainly not going to happen…anytime soon.”
Friedler was also asked if the charging station could be painted or a box be put over it to help camouflage it.
Friedler responded by saying that the manufacturer’s instructions state not to cover or restrict the station in any way, but he said that he “can get a second opinion of course.”
Commissioner Genia Demetriades said that “you can probably achieve thee same with plantings,” and Friedler said that a planting would be something he would agree to.
“The neighborhood association is very much in favor of electric chargers, however, we are concerned about the visual impact,” said Sue Prindle of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay. “Any of the solutions suggested would work on this one,” she said, adding that she “would hope” that Landmarks staff has the final word on whatever is chosen to help hide the charging station.
The Commission voted to approve the application “with the proviso that the charging station be covered with a bush or some kind of plant that will shield it from the public way,” according to Weintraub.