The Board of Appeals yesterday deferred any action on a proposed duplex on Hemman Street in Roslindale because the design - which featured two two-car garages right next to each other under the living space - was just too suburban for an urban neighborhood, even one as leafy as that section of Roslindale.
Scott Johnson, who owns an existing three-family house at 57 Hemman St., about midway between Kittredge and Highfield streets, wants to combine that property with the much larger empty lot he owns at 59 Hemman St., build a new two-unit duplex and turn the house into three condos.
Board members did not express any concerns about the height, density or nearness to property lines of the proposal for the total 14,715 square feet of land. But they tore into Johnson's design, which showed two 16-foot-wide garages right next to each other in the new building.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo, who lives nearby, said that much garage space in a row "seems inappropriate for the community."
Board member Anthony Pisani, an architect, agreed: "This is totally inconsistent with urban streets. This is a classic suburban layout."
Johnson's attorney, Jeff Drago, said the garages were the result of a series of compromises with neighbors. He said Johnson reduced his original four proposed units to two and agreed to give up an easement to the busier Cornell Street so that cars would only enter the property from Hemman.
Johnson said he initially looked at a possible driveway for parking, but that that wouldn't work because of the way the land dips in the middle.
But Johnson agreed to look at a possible "tandem" design - in which the garage would basically have two parking lanes for two cars apiece - which would let him build just a single garage door.
The board set a new hearing date of Sept. 11 for the proposal, to give Johnson time to come up with a new design.