Architectural Commission Votes to Deny Privacy Fence on Proposed Charles Street Garage Roofdeck

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted 3-1 during its Sept. 16 hearing held via Zoom to deny an application for the Charles Street Garage at 144 Charles St. to install a privacy fence on its proposed roofdeck, as well to add a guard rail there.

Martha McNamara, commission chair, said her reason for both making the motion to deny the application and voting for that motion were clear: Beacon Hill Historic District guidelines specifically prohibit the use of opaque fencing, as was the case here. Nick Armata, senior preservation planner for the Boston Landmarks Commission (as well as BHAC staff), agreed with this assessment.

Commissioner Alice Richmond cast the sole vote not to deny the application, since, she said, the proposed garage redevelopment was a “commercial project” on a “commercial street” (i.e. Charles Street), and because the back of the building faces Storrow Drive.

“People live in this neighborhood, and it’s not a museum,” said Richmond, who added that only a small portion of the proposed screening would be visible from a public way and only then when there are no leaves on the trees.

In another matter, the commission voted 3-1 to deny without prejudice an application continued from last month to replace 12 canopy-mounted fixtures with new LED fixtures, and to install one new LED wall-mounted fixture, at the Bank of America walk-up ATM vestibule at 45 Charles St., amid concerns about potentially excessive lighting.

Josh Waggoner of GMR, a Texas engineering firm, said he would report back to bank corporate that their proposal had met some resistance (as is often the case in historic districts), particularly in regard to a proposed “lantern” lighting fixture.

The commission also voted unanimously to approve as submitted a proposed new sign for Cobblestones a new quick-service restaurant opening in the former Café Bella Vita space at 30 Charles St. The circular sign would be made of a composite metal material, measuring 34-by-34 inches (the same dimension as the former Café Bella Vita sign), and hung on the existing bracket. This came with provisos that existing lighting is removed from the bracket, and that drawings of the new sign, which include the establishment’s name, as well as an image of a lantern with a fork in place of the wick,  be submitted to staff for their records.

Likewise, the commission also voted unanimously to approve as submitted  a new sign for J. Grady Home, a full-service interior deign firm that has opened at 133 Charles St. The new sign would be square, measuring 28-by-28 inches, and blue with white lettering, along with the company logo, a gold bee; it would hang on an existing bracket using a black wrought-iron hook and chain. This motion carried with the usual proviso that drawings of the proposed sign be submitted to staff for their records.

On a violation for 25-27 Pinckney St., the commission voted to ratify the unapproved window boxes, but ordered the applicant to remove an unapproved camera, as well as to replace the existing one-over-one windows at 25 Pinckney St. with “more-appropriate” six-over-six windows, so that both buildings match. Armata will also work with the applicant on a proposed doorbell.

The commission voted on a violation for 82 Revere St to ratify an unapproved service door, with the proviso that the applicant remove the beadboard from the header, repair the masonry below, and match its color to the header, and said while the unapproved black high-gloss paint on the front door could remain black, it should be matte or semi-gloss to better obscure the door’s imperfections. This came with provisos that the applicant submit paint sample for both the front door and the entry door to staff.

On an application for 6 Otis Place which was continued from last month, to remove and reset the existing upper deck and fourth-floor front deck in-kind, and to refurbish the iron rail in the process, while making no revisions to the existing footprint or configuration of the deck, the commission approved the proposed work as submitted. This came with provisos that the fifth-floor deck be pushed back 12 inches, and that the “globe on a pole,” as described by Commissioner McNamara, be removed from Brimmer St. As another stipulation, a globe structure, which is visible from the street, would also need to be removed within two years by the applicant.

In another matter continued from July (and removed from last month’s agenda at the applicant’s request) for 39-41 Mount Vernon St. to add six new grates at the lower-level windows to match grates on other existing windows, the commission was presented with three options by Nancy Sadecki of the Boston architectural firm, Meyer & Meyer, and ultimately approved their second choice, which Armata also preferred.

The commission voted 2-1 to approved as submitted, with a 12-inch setback, an application for 83 Mt. Vernon St. to replace existing pressure-treated wood-lattice roofdeck guardrail with new steel guardrail painted black on back of rear ell, and to remove a small section of the roof to extend the existing roofdeck and guardrail to the party wall.

Likewise, the commission approved as submitted an application for 15 Ridgeway Lane to remove a non-original wood inswing 15-light door and wood outswing door and replacing with Pella Reserve Traditional wood/alum clad 15-light inswing door with Pella’s historically accurate ILT grill at the rear patio. This came with the proviso that the door be made of all wood, with no wood cladding, and true divided-light.

An  application for 63 Mount Vernon St. St. to add shutters and shutter dogs, new front gate and fence was removed from the agenda at the request of staff.

Moreover, an application  104 Chestnut St. to ratify  unapproved electrical outlet in granite appeared on the agenda, but will be heard at the October hearing instead.

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