BBAC Continues Application for Electric Vehicle Charging Station

After approving one last month, the Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) on December 8 heard another application for an electric vehicle charging station. As more and more residents purchase electric vehicles, it is anticipated that more of these kinds of applications will come before the BBAC.

This application differed from that one, however, as the previous application requested a Tesla branded charging station which only came in one color and material.

For this proposal, applicant Josh Marantz proposed to install a cabinet and an electrical conduit on the brick wall where the parking spot is located at 273 Beacon St. However, there is a private patio for Unit 1 that does not allow for electrical access, so the conduit is required to provide power to the charging station, he said.

The proposal is to place the charging cabinet, which will hold the charger and the cable pulley, to the left of the sign denoting the parking spot on the brick wall. He said the cabinet will remain closed except when being used, and “will not be visible to people driving down the alley.”

Marantz also said the proposal includes painting the conduit the color of the brick “so it is as unobtrusive as possible,” and it will be made of PVC.

A few Commissioners expressed their dissatisfaction with the conduit on the wall, and Commissioner John Christiansen suggested that both the conduit and the box be “buried” in the wall. Marantz said that the box would be eight inches deep to keep the cable inside, and Joe Cornish, Director of Design Review for the Boston Landmarks Commission, said he wasn’t sure if the box would be too deep to fit inside the wall.

During public comment, Sue Prindle of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) said she believes a material other than PVC “might be more appropriate” for the cabinet.

Marantz said that other materials were discussed with an electrician, including metal, but he said the electrician didn’t think that as a good choice because of heat as well as the ability to access the charger via Wi-Fi.

He also said that they considered weatherproof wood, which is still on the table.

“This is probably one the first of many applications of wall mount chargers,” said resident John Tankard, adding that “PVC doesn’t sound very substantial or permanent compared to a metal. My take is as soon as you approve whatever you’re doing with this application, there are going to be many more in the future and it would be worth really trying to understand the best possible choice.”

John Christiansen made a motion to continue the proposal “and allow the applicant to work with staff to explore running the conduit through the wall and in some way recessing the box in that wall.” He said that way, when the applicant comes back at another hearing, “we know what the problems are.”

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