Beacon Hill Civic Association Zoning and Licensing Committee Agenda

The Zoning and Licensing Committee of the Beacon Hill Civic Association will meet on Wednesday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m. at 74 Joy Street. All meetings are open to the public. If you have any questions or comments regarding the matters to be heard, please attend. If you are unable to attend but would like to express an opinion, please call (617.227.1922), write (74 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02114) or send an email to the BHCA office ([email protected]) prior to the meeting. Design plans and additional information and updates on these matters are posted on the BHCA website at


28R PHILLIPS STREET – Seeking variances from floor area ratio (FAR) and rear yard setback requirements of the Boston Zoning Code to add 4th floor space by raising the roof in front and back.

28R Phillips Street is a 3 ½ story, single-family brick house located within a courtyard accessed by a passageway through existing buildings on the south side of Phillips Street. According to the ISD refusal letter the purpose of the project is: “to remodel existing partially finished living space into master suite by opening the roof line on front and rear of property to gain additional ceiling height. . . . Demo existing Gable Roof and constructing new 4th Level onto building.”

The owner/applicants appeared at the November meeting to explain plans to raise the front and rear pitched roof areas to create a flat roof, adding 275 s.f. of floor area and resulting in an increase in FAR from 2.0 to 2.3 which exceeds the 2.0 maximum FAR permitted as of right in the H-2-65 District and encroaching into the rear yard setback, and requiring variances under BZC Art. 15, Sec. 1 (FAR excessive) and Art. 20, Sec. 1 (Rear Yard Requirements). Owners of units in abutting buildings spoke in opposition stating that the proposed expansion would have a significant adverse impact on their light, views and privacy. The applicants requested a one-month deferral to allow time for discussions with neighbors in an attempt to agree on acceptable modified plans.

APPLICANT’S REQUEST: Non-opposition to the requested relief (requiring exceptions to the BHCA policy of opposition to such variances under Zoning & Licensing Policies #4 and 5).

PARK STREET SCHOOL The school is proposing projects requiring zoning relief at two properties it owns on Brimmer Street, as follows:

63-69 Brimmer Street (aka 67 Brimmer Street) – The school proposes to expand the main school building by infilling a part of the existing courtyard, adding about 300 sf of space at each of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stories. The building’s floor area ratio (FAR) is presently 3.54 (which exceeds the 2.0 maximum for Beacon Hill) and would increase to 3.68, requiring a variance from Article 15 of the Zoning Code. The present building use as a school is a conditional use in the H-2-65 District; so expanding the building also requires zoning relief under Article 9 of the Code (by meeting criteria for a Conditional Use Permit).

55-57 Brimmer Street – The building in question is a two-story carriage house situated directly across Chestnut Street from the main school building and currently used for parking on the ground level, with a single-family residence on the second story. It has an attached, one-story addition at the rear along Brimmer Street and a small courtyard behind that. The school proposes to convert the building from residential to elementary school use, replacing parking and residence areas with classrooms and office.

The project involves exterior repairs and restoration, accessibility improvements, automatic sprinklers, reconstruction of the rear one-story structure, adding a second means of egress, and interior modifications as well as installation of a groundwater recharge system as required by the Zoning Code. The proposal also includes addition of a roof deck on the one-story rear annex. No dimensional variances are required, but, since use as a school is a conditional use in the H-2-65 District, the change of use requires a Conditional Use Permit under Article 6 of the Zoning Code.

Project plans and related documents are posted on the BHCA website as are our Zoning & Licensing Policies which set forth criteria for consideration of conditional use permits and variances (reflecting the ‘conditions necessary’ set forth in Sections 6 and 7 of the Zoning Code). The applicant and representatives will appear to explain the details of the project and the grounds for zoning relief and to respond to questions. In addition to the standard variance issues of hardship, special circumstances and precedent, concerns commonly raised when external additions and roof decks are proposed include such impacts on neighbors as loss of light, views and privacy and intrusion of noise from HVAC units and noise and light associated with deck use.

It should be noted that in connection with its original 2003 application for zoning relief to establish the school, the applicant entered into an agreement with the BHCA which, among other requirements, limited enrollment at the school to 235 students. The applicant states that that requirement is being observed and that the proposed projects are intended to enhance the educational experience of the present student body and not to accommodate additional students. (A copy of the Agreement is posted on the website with the materials mentioned above).

APPLICANT’S REQUEST: Non-opposition to the requested relief requiring (a) exceptions to the BHCA policy of opposition to such variances under Zoning & Licensing Policies #4 and 5, and (b) as regards the conditional use permits, findings of compliance with the requirements of Policy #6..

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