Architectural Comm. Rejects Design for HVAC on Rooftop

By Stephen Quigley

The first two items on the agenda at last Wednesday’s meeting of Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC] took more time to decide than the other 29 that also were on the agenda.

The first item concerned unapproved rooftop HVAC equipment at the corner building of 362 Marlborough St. at Hereford St. The plans to rehab the building and place equipment on the rooftop were approved in 2016. However, the HVAC and heat pump equipment that is now in question is six feet tall and clearly visible from a public way.  In addition, there also is a kitchen vent that is clearly visible from a public way.

“This is an eyesore,” said Commissioner Genia Demetriades  referring to the equipment, adding, “You should have checked with staff. The equipment should not be there.”

Mark Howland, who was representing the developer, noted that if the equipment was moved to the center of the building, then it becomes “more visible.”

Commissioner David Sampson wanted to see more mock-ups and see those representations from the public ways. “Size and visibility are the issues,” he added.

Local resident Thomas High said that the current design “is really egregious.”

The commission voted not to approve the current design and that the developers should come back at the October 12 meeting with a better plan. The details of the new plan were referred to staff.

The question of whether to approve more DAS (Distributed Antenna System) nodes on existing street lamps came before the commission. The street lamp located at 280 Beacon St. was the center of the issue.

In May of 2022, the application was denied without prejudice. 

There were several issues that prompted the commission to reject the application at that time.

The first had to do with health and safety concerns, while the second pertained to an incorrectly-submitted location on the application of 274 Beacon St., rather than 280 Beacon St.

With the proper address now on the application, the commissioners took up the issue of health and safety and agreed that this issue was not in their purview and should not enter into their decision to accept or reject the application.

Rick Souza, representing the applicant, noted that there is a need for the additional DAS nodes and that this location was optimal to fill the hole in service because it will provide the most uninterrupted coverage with few buildings in its path.

Commissioners also noted that this location is preferred because it comports with the commission’s preference to keep this sort of equipment in areas that group together other conveniences, such as street lamps, traffic lights and mailboxes.

Serge Savard from the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay (NABB) spoke in favor of the revised application, noting that the NABB had conducted a review and that the “application seems consistent with the guidelines.”

However, he also noted the concerns of the NABB that there is a need for more data on the use of additional light poles for service, since many communication providers already have designated other light poles that have not been changed with the added nodes to fill in their coverage gaps.

Resident Barry Brown thought the commissioners should consider other issues for their decision that includes how many other providers have earmarked light poles and whether the 4G technology is still going to be sufficient.

The commissioners voted 4 to 1 in favor of the application.

• 23.0159 BB 148 Commonwealth Avenue: At rear elevation install electric vehicle charging station.

• 22.1392 BB & 22.1429  BB          316 Newbury Street: At side (Hereford Street) elevation install awning, add pick-up window at existing window opening, and install menu board and buzzer. Application approved with provisos.

Administrative Review/Approval

The following applications were all approved:

• 23.0137 BB 3 Arlington Street: Restore existing wood window sash and replace existing storm windows.

• 23.0167 BB 129 Beacon Street: At rear elevation re-point masonry and repaint window trim.

• 23.0218 BB 144 Beacon Street: At roof replace black rubber membrane roof in-kind.

• 23.0180 BB 233 Beacon Street: At front façade repair and repaint entry steps, and at rear elevation repair existing wood fence.

• 23.0113 BB 234 Beacon Street: At front façade repair masonry.

• 23.0194 BB 260 Beacon Street: At rear elevation replace four one-over-one non-historic wood windows with one-over-one wood windows.

• 23.0211 BB 357 Beacon Street: At rear elevation repair masonry and replace deteriorated wood at bay window in-kind.

• 23.0185 BB 661 Boylston Street: At rear elevation repair and repaint fire escape.

• 23.0098 BB 230 Clarendon Street: At front façade replace existing awnings and install window signage.

• 23.0077 BB 11 Commonwealth Avenue: At roof replace flooring at existing deck.

• 23.0173 BB 41 Commonwealth Avenue: At rear elevation replace two first-story one-over-one wood windows and two first-story two-over-two wood windows in-kind.

• 23.0172 BB 50 Commonwealth Avenue: At roof replace existing roof deck.

• 23.0122 BB 126 Commonwealth Avenue: At rear elevation repair and re-point masonry.

• 23.0121 BB 223 Commonwealth Avenue: Replace all windows in-kind; remove rear addition and install garage door opening; and at roof re-clad elevator overrun, install headhouse, roof deck and air-conditioning condensers (work previously approved by BBAC on 6-10-2020 Application 20.1044 BB).

• 23.0205 BB 239 Commonwealth Avenue: At front façade and rear elevation repair and re-point masonry, replace sealant at windows, repaint window trim and fire escapes.

• 23.0174 BB 370 Commonwealth Avenue: At first story replace existing awnings.

• 23.0216 BB 390 Commonwealth Avenue: At front facade entry replace lighting, entry doors, flooring and railings (work previously approved by BBAC on 7-14-2021 Application 21.1151 BB).

• 23.0124 BB 321 Dartmouth Street: At front façade repair entry steps and curbing.

• 23.0128 BB 21 Fairfield Street: Repaint masonry trim.

• 23.0170 BB 148 Marlborough Street: At rear elevation replace five one-over-one wood windows in-kind.

• 23.0115 BB 188 Marlborough Street: At roof replace black rubber membrane roofing in-kind.

• 23.0179 BB 120 Newbury Street: At rear elevation replace six one-over-one wood windows and six two-over-two wood windows in-kind.

• 23.0192 BB 128 Newbury Street: At front façade replace wall sign at lower level retail space.

• 23.0203 BB 136 Newbury Street: At front façade replace non-historic storefront and signage.

• 23.0106 BB 234 Newbury Street: At front façade install blade sign.

• 23.0109 BB 314 Newbury Street: At front façade replace existing blade sign and wall sign.

• 23.0196 BB 316 Newbury Street: At side elevation install awning. WITHDRAWN

• 23.0151 BB 425 Newbury Street: Repair masonry at parking garage.

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