The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to replace three long abandoned garages on Rock Hill Road with a 14-unit residential building after Paul Gore Road residents complained it would make parking on their street more difficult, pose a public-safety hazard, be out of character with the rest of the neighborhood and require new natural-gas hookups.
Matthew Hayes, who owns most of the private Rock Hill Road, along with an active auto-body shop there, had proposed 12 two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units in a four-story building with 26 parking spaces, some at the other end of the short, U-shaped road.
At a hearing this morning, the mayor's office and City Councilor Matt O'Malley spoke in favor of the proposal, which would include two units marketed to people making no more than 70% of the Boston area median income. The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council also supported the plan.
One Paul Gore Street resident also spoke in favor, "I've been looking at these derelict buildings for 40 years and I would like to see this go up," he said.
But another Paul Gore resident spoke against, in part due to the extra cars she said it would bring, making it even more difficult for long-time residents to park. She said she's lost 11 pounds due to meals she couldn't eat for fear of not getting a nearby place to park after she goes out shopping.
Other residents also brought up parking as an issue and said the proposal is out of character with the two- and three-family homes in the area.
One resident decried Boston's push to build more housing, saying the city should care more about long-term residents than "providing housing to outsiders who are trying to move to the city." She added that large trucks - including fire vehicles - cannot make easily make the turn onto Rock Hill.
Hayes disputed that point, saying firetrucks have made it onto Rock Hill before. He added that the auto-body shop is fully sprinklered, as the new residential building would be.
The board voted unanimously to deny the variance request, but without prejudice, meaning Hayes can come back with a new proposal within a year. Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo told Hayes that means a proposal significantly different than the one the board rejected.