Unapproved Garage Door Behind Mass Ave Gets Re-Approval after Last Decision is Nullified

By Beth Treffeisen

The South End Landmarks District Commission re-approved a previously unapproved garage door located behind 561 Massachusetts Ave., along with construction of a new garage behind it, at Tuesday, October 4 meeting.

The re-submission of the proposal comes after nearby abutters realized that they have not been notified of the public meeting causing the previous decision to be nullified.

“When we realized this happened after being alerted by one of the abutters we wanted to come back and take the time to alleviate the problems,” said Frank McGuire, architect on this project.

During the proposal McGuire said that they plan on taking the garage door and wall back to something closer to what it was.

In this re-submission McGuire asked the commissioners to change the design slightly by making the garage door more centered to fit the curves on the sidewalk and asked to remove the pier between the door and the accessory door and have all brick instead.

At the previous meeting that was held on Tuesday, September 6, the commissioners agreed on approving the reconstructing of the garage door that was to be placed to the left with a smaller service door on the right.

They also agreed on lowering the height of the wall from nine feet and four inches tall to down to eight feet with a 12-inch brick pier.

Previous owners of the property widened the door without approval from the Commission by removing and opening the brick wall and installing an accordion door.

To remedy the problem, the current owners Douglas and Diane Saglio hope to close part of the blown out door to make it reflect closer to the other garage doors on Northampton St. by filling it in with brick.

Commissioner Peter Sanborn asked, “You’re building a new garage behind it – I really wonder if it would be better to reconstruct that whole run because there is very little of the original material left?”

But in attempt to save money, McGuire said they would tooth it in to the best of their ability to diminish the existing opening.

“The guys who put it in before us didn’t have permits,” said Douglas Saglio. “We couldn’t find them and we’re trying to make a bad situation better.”

Lloyd Fillion a resident of 563 Massachusetts Ave., voiced concern over filling in with brick to solve the problem.

“I’m in the construction business,” Fillion said. “And you can see the inconsistency of the brick on the wall.”

He added that the wall faces a public way that does get a lot of foot traffic.

“With someone who is familiar with the South End they know it’s a miss-match,” said Fillion. “As far as preserving anything of history I’m not sure.”

Carol Blaire the president of the Chester Square Area Neighborhood Association voiced concerns that the neighbors had increased the height of the existing wall stating that most of the walls down that street are six feet or less.

“The historic character of the neighborhood we would like that to be continued here too,” said Blaire.

Commissioner John Freeman pointed out that the unapproved garage door should have at one point been cited as a violation but it never was.

“It’s just like a roof deck,” said Freeman. “If it’s already there we can’t make them tear it down. It’s not under our purview and our time to ask for that.”

He added that if they did take it down it would be under their purview to limit the height.

Commissioner Catherine Hunt said, “We feel confident that you will do everything you can to make it look good.”


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