The Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA) met virtually on January 12, where they approved two proposed items in the South End.
At 11HF Claremont Park, attorney Marc LaCasse proposed to legalize two parking spots in the rear of the building that have existed for more than 50 years. He said that the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) requested that the proponent “file a use of premises permit application…” LaCasse said, adding that this is a “condition that is similar to every other house on that stretch of Claremont Park.
He said that the parking spots are compliant with size requirements for parking spaces, and the proposal is before the board because ISD cited the spots for maneuverability because of their location in Private Alley 536, located between Greenwich Park and Claremont Park.
The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services was in support of the project, as was the Claremont Neighborhood Association.
The ZBA voted to approve the legalization of the parking spaces.
At 294 Columbus Ave., architect Derek Rubinoff proposed to change the occupancy of the building from four residential units to five, as well as eliminate the spiral staircase that connects the basement to the first floor.
“Currently, this is a four unit building that was given zoning relief to add the two stories that have been since added back in 2015,” Rubinoff said.
He said that the owners would like to take the existing duplex unit on the basement and first floor level and “subdivide” it into a two bedroom unit on the first floor and a studio unit in the basement, as well as get rid of the spiral staircase connecting the two. The basement portion is already finished, as it is part of the existing duplex unit.
“It’s really a garden unit,” he clarified.
The size of the proposed basement studio unit is 497 square feet, and the first floor two bedroom unit is 800 square feet, he said. He said the basement unit has “over eight feet of height,” and a similar basement unit next door was approved by the ZBA last year.
He said that in the opinion of the owners, the “market has shifted,” and they felt it would be “more marketable” to have two separate units.
“I’m really torn with this,” ZBA Chair Christine Araujo said, because she said the applicants have already received relief from the ZBA and have “profited off that relief and are now looking to continue that,” she said.
The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services was in support of the project, with liaison Kim Crucioli saying that an abutters’ meeting was held, and no concerns from neighbors were expressed. She said that there are several other buildings on Columbus Avenue with basement units in the same situation as this proposal.
City Councilor Ed Flynn was also in support, with a representative from his office saying that the Ellis Neighborhood Association was contacted regarding this proposal and no concerns were reported. City Councilor Michael Flaherty was also in support.
The ZBA approved this project, though Araujo voted to oppose.