BHAC Approves Modified Streetlight Design With Cell Antenna Adjacent To Mount Vernon Street

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission voted 6-0, with one abstention, to approve an application to replace an existing streetlight equipped with a cellphone antenna  adjacent to 161 Mount Vernon St. with a different style fixture at the same location during the commission’s monthly hearing on Thursday, Oct. 19, which took place virtually.

The commission had previously approved by a vote of 6-1-0  an application to install a cell antenna to serve T-Mobile users on a replacement streetlight pole filed by the same applicant, Extenet, a Texas-based, national telecommunications services provider, at its virtual hearing on April 20.

The small parcel where the pole is located falls under the jurisdiction of the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation, and DCR now wants to replace the existing pendant-style streetlights with a cabinet base with the “more decorative” 1907 style pole to be consistent with the style of street-poles found along Storrow Drive, said Keenan Brinn, a consultant for Extenet Systems. DCR hopes to get underway on the project in November, he added.

Commissioner Alice Richmond, who cast the only abstaining vote on this application on the Oct. 19 hearing, as well as the only vote in opposition on the earlier application at the commission’s April 20 hearing, said she believes the new design is “far superior” to the previous iteration.

But Commissioner Richmond, just as she did at the April hearing, again voiced her strong preference to have the streetlight located instead on the other side of Storrow Drive on the Esplanade, which would be outside of the purview of the BHAC, and where, she said, “it would be much-less obvious.”

While the paint color for the replacement pole was listed as green on the application, Brinn indicated that the pole could be painted either green or black, depending on the commission’s preference.

(Commission Chair Mark Kiefer had noted that other nearby street-poles are painted either green or black in a seemingly arbitrary manner.)

In another matter, the commission voted unanimously to approve an application for 14 Walnut St.; the proposed work includes adding mahogany, stained cedar wood-paneling on the ceiling to match the existing door and casing at the front entry; replacing a hexagon, shaped, flush-mounted light there with another similar-shaped fixture, which is 4-inch larger; and  removing and replacing an existing security camera with a Ring doorbell and security-camera system, which would be recessed into the wood paneling on the  left-hand side and have a brass cover plate with cutouts.

This determination came with a proviso that the applicant remove the plaster boards from the ceiling to allow BHAC staff (Nicholas Armata) the opportunity to inspect what’s behind it, as well as to subsequently make a recommendation on how to handle its treatment.

On an application for 20 Louisburg Square, the commission unanimously approved an application, which includes reconfiguring a non-historic dormer at the rear façade that Chair Kiefer deemed to be only “marginally” visible from a public way.

Chair Kiefer, who made the motion on this application, also noted that proposed work at the front entry, which includes the installation of a new, modern, surface-mounted doorbell and light fixture at the service door, wouldn’t be visible from a public way, and is therefore exempt from the BHAC’s purview.

An application for the American Meteorological Society’s headquarters at 45 Beacon St., which proposes replacing the wooden flag poles with metal ones, appeared on the agenda for the hearing but ultimately wasn’t heard by the commission due to the applicant’s failure to appear as scheduled.

Also, an application for 48 Chestnut St., with proposed work including the replacement of rear dormer level windows with all wood, true divided light, nine-light casement windows, also appeared on the agenda for the hearing but was moved to administrative review.

In an advisory review, the commission heard tentative details of a plan to renovate the Italian Renaissance Revival townhouse at 46 Beacon St, , which overlooks the Boston Common and was built by Eben Dyer Jordan Sr., co-founder of Jordan Marsh department store, circa 1898. (Mainsail Management recently bought the five-story multifamily building from the church from the Unification Church in for $20.5 million.)

The proposed project would entail creating a garage door on the building’s façade facing Spruce Court by enlarging two existing openings there and removing a pier that separates them, as well as adding ventilation for the new garage; realigning existing window bays on the Spruce Court façade; creating new window openings facing 45 Beacon St.; and altering, reconstructing, and re-cladding several areas on the side and rear elevations, along with multiple new roof decks,  according to Kyle Coughlin and William Young, two project consultants on hand for the hearing.

If the proponent files an application for this proposed project, the earliest the matter could be heard is at the commission’s next monthly hearing, which is scheduled to take place virtually on Thursday, Nov. 16, said Chair Kiefer.

Moreover, in the event that the proponent files the application, Chair Kiefer requested the applicant include drawings that show side-by-side images of the existing and proposed building facades. He also urged his fellow commissioners to visit the site to better anticipate the impacts of various elements of the proposed project.

Besides Chair Kiefer and Commissioner Richmond, Vice Chair Arian Allen and Commissioners Maurice Finegold, Edward Fleck, Annette Given, and Ralph Jackson were in attendance at the hearing.

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