The Board of Appeals today rejected a triple-decker owner's request to extend the three floors of his building at 712 East 6 St. after the mayor's office, newly elected City Councilor Ed Flynn and residents said the new space would harm the character of the neighborhood and cause potential public-safety issues - even though the proposal met all the zoning requirements for its lot.
That Mathew O'Hara's proposal to add about 635 square feet of space to his building - which would let him increase the number of bedrooms from seven to nine - was before the zoning board is because the property sits in an "interim planning overlay district," that was created by the BPDA as it works out overall zoning for South Boston and which requires zoning-board approval for any new projects.
One nearby resident said City Point's triple deckers represent a historic part of neighborhood architecture and that letting O'Hara extend his triple decker would "set a dangerous precedent for the destruction of that precious architectural heritage." He added the extension would increase the risk of a major conflagration by moving the building that much closer to its neighbors to the rear, would reduce their privacy and would restrict air circulation there, as well as remove some open space in a neighborhood without much of that. He added the interim zoning was put in place to stop such an "egregious project."
Another resident presented the board with a petition signed by some 409 nearby residents in opposition. In addition to the mayor's office and Flynn, the offices of City Councilor Michael Flaherty and state Rep. Nick Collins also opposed the proposal.
O'Hara's attorney, George Morancy, said the opposition was unfair. "I understand that people don't like it, but my client is playing by the rules," he said. He said the zoning for the lot requires a rear setback of 20 feet, and that even with the extension, the enlarged building would be 31 feet away from the rear lot line. And the expanded building would have a "floor/area ratio" - a measurement of density - of 1.8, when the current zoning would have allowed a ratio of 2. And even with the extension, the lot would still have "700 square feet of true green space."
But only board member Anthony Pisani sided with O'Hara.