The Board of Appeals yesterday approved a roof deck proposed by the owner of 10 Bond St. that would sit between the roof decks at 8 and 12 Bond St., rejecting demands by neighbors to deny permission because he currently lives and works in Argentina.
Frederick Bates has been trying since 2013 to win city approval for the deck. His attorney and architect told the board the deck would not be visible from the street and that he would put in planters - with some plants reaching six feet in height - to screen it from his immediate neighbors.
His attorney, Dennis Quilty, said seven other buildings on the short street between Milford and Hanson streets already have decks and that a total of 38 buildings within a 300-foot circumference of Bates's single-family building have decks.
Residents said Bates would be welcome to file another application for a deck when he fulfills what they said was a promise to move into the building himself, rather than renting it out. In fact, some accused him of reneging on that promise. Residents told the board they don't know what could happen if an absentee landlord put in a deck - who would they talk to if they had problems?
One resident raised the specter of an incident at 12 Bond St., which has a deck and had an absentee landlord - and a dog that spent hours on the deck barking.
That landlord, Baily Dent, attended the meeting - to oppose the proposed deck. He acknowledged the dog problem, said it was the fault of his tenant's and that the neighborhood has had no such problems since he moved into the unit himself.
Quilty said Bates does plan to move into the building at some point, but gave no timeline.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo tried repeatedly, and futilely, to get people to stop talking about where Bates lives now, saying that's not a zoning issue that the board could deal with. "I just want to focus on the deck," she said. "We're not talking about the universe here and people's lives, we're talking about this deck, which is 294 square feet."
One Bond Street resident did support Bates. Harry Ceccon, who has lived across the street at 7 Bond for 63 years, and who told the board he might have been the first street resident to add a roof deck, said he has never had a problem with the decks on either side of him. He added that he looked out his bedroom window before the hearing and counted 17 decks.
Another supporter was Bates's tenant, who has lived in the building with his wife and daughter for the past five years.
The mayor's office supported the deck proposal. "We don't feel owner occupancy should necessarily be the criteria" for a zoning decision, a neighborhood liaison told the board. But citing the neighborhood opposition, City Councilors Ed Flynn, Annissa Essaibi George, Ayanna Pressley, Michael Flaherty and Michelle Wu and state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz all opposed the deck.
After an aide to Wu cited a petition against the deck signed by 75 residents, Araujo asked, "out of curiosity, how many of those people have decks?" The aide said he did not know.
The board vote was not unanimous. Member Anthony Pisani voted against allowing the deck.