BHCA Zoning and Licensing Committee Opposes Variance Request for 87 West Cedar Street

By Dan Murphy

Despite support for the variance from numerous neighbors, the Beacon Hill Civic Association Zoning and Licensing Committee voted on Wednesday to oppose temporary zoning relief requested for an occupancy change at 87 West Cedar St.

Lauren Scott, a mental health counselor, and her husband Nathan Scott, a massage therapist, have used a one garden-level unit (located at 87A West Cedar St.) as a shared office for their practices, since Lauren’s mother bought the 13-apartment building in early 2015. While the building owner said she was erroneously advised that office use was allowed there, the Inspectional Services Department (ISD) has duly cited her for its illegal use.

During last week’s hearing at 74 Joy St., West Cedar Street resident Larry Hayden presented the committee with 19 letters from neighbors in support of the zoning relief.

Other immediate neighbors said the business has such a minimal impact that they were unaware of it.

In contrast, Judy Avery of West Cedar Street pointed to it as one of many offices operating illegally in a residentially zoned neighborhood.

 “It means that every landlord who wants to put a business in [his] basement can do it,” Avery said. “It’s certainly not what we want creeping up our street.”

Lindall Place resident Linda Jordan-Dow also expressed concern that granting the variance would set a precedent for further commercial use in the neighborhood.

Committee co-chair Tom Clemens echoed this sentiment, saying, “You have to look at each case individually, but commercialization of the interior of the Hill is something this committee is against.”

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