ZBA Approves Several Projects in Back Bay, Bay Village

The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) met virtually on Feb. 8, where the board approved several projects in the Back Bay and Bay Village area, including one at 119 St. Botolph St. to add rear decks, one at 92-100 Mass Ave. to operate a 24 hour Planet Fitness, and one at 84 Berkeley St. to build a replacement roof deck.

119 St. Botolph St.

Greg McCarthy proposed the roof decks at 119 St. Botolph St., saying that the existing building is a four story, four unit building. The proposal is to add the rear decks as well as to extend the existing head house to create a penthouse addition for the fourth floor unit. The deck will be “roughly 450 square feet,” he said. “We are also proposing exterior alterations to the front of the building and the rear of the building,” McCarthy added.

He said the existing head house is about 70 square feet, and the reason for the extension is to create a master bedroom on that level. He also said that while most of the abutting buildings do not have this additional space on top, they do have varying sizes of head houses.

Molly Griffin from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that an abutters meeting was held on December 13, and that the Mayor’s Office defers to the board on this matter.

McCarthy said that there is also a “letter of support from the architectural commission.”

The ZBA voted to approve the proposal as presented.

92-100 Massachusetts Ave.

Chase Villafana of Planet Fitness presented a proposal for a Planet Fitness location at 92-100 Massachusetts Ave. the site of a former Boston Sports Club location.

He said that they are “proposing to take over the previously operating Boston Sports Club and perform minor interior alterations to the cellar and sub-cellar spaces.”

The board asked him to keep his presentation focused on the 24 hour aspect of the club, since that is a conditional use.

Villafana said that “our staff is trained in management disciplines for overnight operating,” and there are “intelligent camera systems” on the interior and exterior of the building. For this location, he said there will be 23 cameras that will include a 90 day backup.

Villafana said that there are “anywhere from 15 to 30 members that come to utilize our gym during the overnight hours,” and Planet Fitness has several other 24 hour locations in the city, including on Winter Street in Downtown Crossing.

He said the company chooses to operate 24 hour locations “based on company ethos” and “diversity and inclusion for all members of the community.”

He said that while the entrance is on Mass Ave., all gym activity will happen “in the cellar and sub-cellar.”

ZBA Chair Christine Araujo expressed concern that this location is “very close to BU” and asked Villafana to “explain to us what the system is for controlling students or others who may be inebriated at odd hours.”

Villafana said that once someone enters the storefront, “you’d have to come down the stairs and have to physically walk past the front desk,” which will have someone behind it 24 hours a day.

“If someone came inebriated to our gym…I would venture to guess that we would probably ask them to leave for that instance,” he said.

Molly Griffin from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that an abutters meeting was held on December 16 and no letters of support or opposition were received. She said that the Mayor’s Office defers to the ZBA on the matter.

Conrad Armstrong spoke on behalf of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB), saying that this had been presented before the organization and NABB does not oppose the proposal.

He said that NABB was “impressed” that there had been “zero incidents” at the Winter St. location, which is the closest 24 hour location to this proposed one.

“There aren’t other gyms in Back Bay that are open 24 hours,” he said, but there are 24 hour 7-11 and CVS locations that do not cause issues in the neighborhood. Armstrong also said that NABB had asked the applicant about security issues and “they allayed our concerns,” he said.

The ZBA voted to approve the application with the provisos that the approval is for this applicant only as well as requiring the applicant to come back in a year to update the board on how things are going “and make sure there’s no issues.”

84-84H Berkeley St.

At 84-84H Berkeley St., the applicant proposed to rebuild a roof deck.

“The previous deck was haphazardly built and has since been removed for obvious reasons,” he said. He said the existing head house would be maintained for access to the roof, but the proposed deck has an expanded footprint.

Kim Crucioli from the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services said that a community meeting was held on Jan. 4, where no abutters expressed opposition. She said that the Mayor’s Office would defer to the ZBA on this matter.

Councilor Ed Flynn was in support of the project, and the ZBA reported they had received one letter of opposition from a neighbor stating she was opposed because she had not been notified.

The ZBA voted to approve the proposal as presented.

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