BHCA Votes Not to Oppose West Cedar St. Residence Plans

July 18, 2013
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The Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) board of directors voted last week not to oppose a proposal to build a shed dormer at a single-family residence at 5 West Cedar St., with the proviso that the decision doesn’t consider the historical appropriateness of the proposed structure.

The applicant intends to erect a 36-foot dormer on the garden courtyard side of the existing gable roof of the 21,000 square-foot building and replace its asphalt roof with slate. While the architect said the project wouldn’t result in a floor-area ratio (FAR) increase, the plan would require approval from the Beacon Hill Architectural Commission because the proposed dormer would be visible from West Cedar and Chestnut streets.

Russ Gaudreau, a BHCA director and co-chair of its Zoning and Licensing Committee, said the applicant cited a desire to increase headroom in the attic and to improve light- and air-conditions as reasons why the dormer would improve his reasonable use and enjoyment of the home.

Several directors at the board’s July 8 meeting expressed concern with the architectural ramifications of the project, but after some discussion, the consensus was that those matters would be best addressed at the Architectural Committee hearing, because the project fell under the purview of the Zoning and Licensing Committee. (The Architectural Commission hadn’t set a time to review the proposal as of publication).

Others speculated that the project could set a dangerous precedent regarding alterations to historic buildings in the neighborhood.

The board had previously tabled the matter at its June 10 meeting to allow directors adequate time to review materials on the project. This came nearly a week after the Zoning and Licensing Committee failed to reach a decision on the proposal, with four votes to oppose granting the necessary zoning relief for the project, four votes not to oppose it and two abstentions.

The applicant had withdrew an earlier version of the proposal at the May 1 Zoning and Licensing Committee meeting and subsequently reduced the size of the proposed dormer after discussions with neighbors.

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