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Proposal for house on tiny South Boston lot causes big ruckus at zoning board

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal for a roughly 1,200-square-foot one-family house on a 715-square-foot lot at 181 E St. in South Boston, saying the proposal was just too large for the small lot and would require the elimination of one or maybe two on-street parking spaces for a curb cut for its proposed garage.

William Davis, who owns and lives at the neighboring 177 E St., sought several variances for his proposed three-story house, in which the first floor would consist mainly of a one-car garage.

Both the Boston Transportation Department and the BPDA opposed the proposal because it would require creation of a curb cut, eliminating one or two on-street parking spaces, essentially creating "a private parking space," which they said the city shouldn't be doing. The BPDA also expressed concern about whether the proposal would force the city to move a utility pole to make way for the curb cut.

Board member Eric Robinson, an architect, also expressed concern about the narrowness of the space between the proposed house and Davis's existing house, which has an exit door and several windows on that side. Davis's architect, Beth McDougal, however, said the space would be three feet, enough for the exit to keep working, and that several of the windows were along a stairway.

A direct neighbor to the rear did not specifically oppose the proposal, but raised questions about it. One nearby resident, however, supported the proposal, said Davis has been a good neighbor for a long time and that a small single-family house is nothing compared to what else has been going up in the neighborhood.

Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo did not let Davis's daughter, who lives in her father's house, speak before the vote; she and another resident angrily denounced the board before they were cut off for the next hearing.

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Comments

Make one room a life science space.

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Voting closed 60

I'm really pleased to hear the BTD and BPDA come out against curb cuts and the privatizing of public space. If we actually charged for resident parking permits there would be even more of an argument against doing this but curb cuts in dense neighborhoods like South Boston, the North End, Charlestown, etc., ruin the pedestrian experience and do forever privatize what should be public space. Unfortunately, because parking is required for most new development you pretty much always see curb cuts with new builds. Maybe this is a step in the right direction.

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Voting closed 35

doing a curb cut that eliminates one on street spot for one off street spot is a bad idea and shouldn't be allowed. doing a curb cut that eliminates one on street spot and creates off street spots for multiple cars is a good idea, because in theory you're freeing up more spaces than you are taking away. people on this site rail all the time about how drivers want to use public land to store their private belongings, but then the board won't allow people to store their private goods (cars) on private land, either?

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Voting closed 17

The rule with curb cuts is that in order to get approval, the cut has to add more spaces than it takes away. I've seen paperwork from when the then owner of my property put in a driveway. They had to add at least 2 spaces to take away the one street space.

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Voting closed 12

Curb cuts do take away public parking spaces which is not fair to the taxpayers of Boston, but fair for the developers trying to make a quick buck..

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Voting closed 13

You love to see it.

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Voting closed 32

If the builder shares that sentiment, they can propose to build it without a garage, no?

If the objection is the de facto privatization of a current common good (the rights to the two public parking spaces that the curb cut for the private garage requires), perhaps the housing gets approved by removing the garage?

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Voting closed 32

If they don't have a garage then they will use parking that is *owned* by the neighbors!

And that single family house will have seventeen on-street parking spaces because - OMG students!

/s

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Voting closed 22

eliminating one or two on-street parking spaces

They should really figure out ahead of time whether it would eliminate one space, or two spaces. Why go into the hearing without first knowing the answer?

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Voting closed 21

There are a growing number of developers that are arriving at the ZBA that are not prepared. In fact some of today's presenters could not answer questions that are part of the ZBA process.

For the last couple of years with COVID causing people to shrink back and hide many have been getting away with a lot and now people are starting to wake up and ask questions. This is a citywide thing. Curb cuts? Today a couple of people couldn't even quote the length and width of the decks they were proposing even with the blueprints right in front of them.

Clearly fewer cars are desirable and that will improve air quality and aid with our changing climate condition. That said... where do you park the electric cars? This year the auto industry will build more electric cars than ever and some are even planning to go all electric in the next decade.

Yet, where's the infrastructure?

I have people in my area that have electric cars. Most are renters and the landlords do not allow the electrical work to be done for chargers. At least one is in a condo and the condo association is not allowing it. So I guess they charge at work or elsewhere. If at work, what happens to charging when they move from the current job?

As it stands the electric infrastructure is struggling in most states to keep up.

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Voting closed 13

the electric infrastructure is struggling in most states to keep up

This is an urban challenge, but most states are okay. Around 75% of Americans live in single family homes, and most of those just need an outlet installed.

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Voting closed 12

Then light poles are a good choice.

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Voting closed 11

Might be two or three Mini-Coopers or just one Chevy Subdivision

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Voting closed 19

His one garage was on the first floor of his building. Couldn't find a clip of him pulling in dangit.

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Voting closed 15

Parking spaces are eliminated in Southie every time it snows.

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Voting closed 10