When residents said Onyx Management and Development's plans for six condos in three attached buildings at 45 Milton Ave. in Dorchester would lead to parking woes on the street, the company responded with a proposal for nine parking spaces in a backyard that would be taken up almost entirely by a driveway and the spaces, with room for just three or four potted shrubs.
The Zoning Board of Appeal approved the project today - but with the proviso the developer work with the BPDA to reduce the number of spaces to seven, so that at least some of the backyard could be used for plantings. That would still be one more parking space than the BPDA would prefer, company attorney Ryan Spitz told the board.
At today's hearings, residents said the parking plan for the three buildings, which would actually be connected by enclosed decks and a common basement, still wouldn't end parking issues on the street.
Robin Saunders of the Dorchester United Neighborhood Association pointed to the loss of a number of on-street spaces when the city turned the intersection of Milton and Edson Street into a roundabout - and to the greater number of people who now work at home due to Covid-19.
Board member Hansy Better Barraza sided with residents in saying the proposal for three three-story buildings was just too dense for the site on a street where most homes are 1 1/2 to 2 stories tall.
She moved to deny the project - which in earlier proposals had 8, 9 or 11 units - without prejudice, which means the company could come back in less than a year with a new plan. "It seems like applicant really needs to work on the density issue," she said, calling for more open space and less parking.
The board voted 4-3 in favor of denial, which means the motion failed because state zoning law requires at least five votes to pass something.
Members Giovanny Valencia, Alan Langham and Katie Whewell voted with Better Barraza; members Norm Stembridge, Sherry Dong and Alaa Mukahhal voted against.
"I appreciate the creation of housing, but I see a problem with parking and open space in back," Valencia said before casting his vote.
"I feel the applicant has reduced this project a great bit," Stembridge said. "I'm not sure that a parking solution will be found by reducing [it further]."
The board then voted 5-2 to approve the project - with Better Barraza and Whewell voting no - but with a proviso the developer work with the BPDA to reduce the number of spaces in the back.
Spitz told the board his client would be amenable to reducing the number of parking spaces in the back to seven.
The project needed variances from the zoning board because the site's zoning prohibits multi-family buildings, the structure would have more square footage than allowed for the roughly 11,000-square-foot parcel and would have one story too many.