BHCA Zoning and Licensing Notice/Agenda

January 10, 2018
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The Zoning and Licensing Committee of the Beacon Hill Civic Association will meet on Wednesday, January 10th at 7:00 p.m. at 74 Joy Street. All meetings are open to the public.

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 (patricia.tully@bhcivic.org) prior to the meeting. Design plans and additional information and updates on these matters are posted on the BHCA website at www.bhcivic.org.

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW 7:00 P.M. STARTING TIME

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.

25 CHARLES STREET (Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro) – Second informational session regarding the owners’ plans to update their dining concept and reconfigure the ground floor restaurant/bar/reception areas, involving modification of the all-alcoholic beverages license to increase bar seating capacity from 8 to 22. Owners will be presenting their revised plans based on community feedback received at the November 2017 Zoning and Licensing Committee meeting.

The owner/applicants describe the proposed changes as follows:

The new restaurant concept will feature various dining areas including banquette, non-fixed tables and a 22-seat oyster bar. Total seating is included for approximately 72 patrons. Lobby improvements to the 13-room boutique hotel include soft seating and more ample space for waiting, checking-in and congregating. The physical changes include a relocated entrance to improve the flow of both hotel and restaurant patrons, longer windows on Charles Street, and new windows wrapping the corner onto Branch Street turning an intimidating alley into a safe, friendly street; all these proposed elements to be in keeping with historic guidelines to preserve the fabric of the building and the neighborhood.

The applicant will present their revised plans, answer questions and solicit input in anticipation of returning in February to formally request support for a modification of their liquor license and any required zoning relief to change the floorplan to relocate the bar and to change the capacity of the bar from 8 to 22 seats.

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