BHAC Tells Otis Place Applicant to Go Back to the Drawing Board

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission told the homeowners of 4 Otis Place, who were cited for making unapproved alterations to a penthouse, among other violations, to go back to the drawing board during its Aug. 20 virtual meeting.

The applicants were seeking to ratify violations including for the height of the penthouse, which was built to different dimensions than was approved; for the creation of four, new two-over-two windows openings in the penthouse, as opposed to the two existing ones that were approved; and for the installation of copper cladding around the penthouse, instead of the approved slate material. The front stairs of the residence were also reconstructed using unapproved materials and details.

The commission determined that the applicant would need to redesign the existing, unapproved penthouse, and that the front stairs must be restored to a more historically appropriate configuration.

Alternate Commissioner Alice Richmond said she believes the myriad violations seem even more egregious, since the applicant has already listed the house for sale on the market, while Commissioner Miguel Rosales pointed to other violations that the applicant hasn’t been cited for yet, including the installation of an unapproved camera; use of aluminum windows with plastic tracks, instead of wood windows; visible vents in the back façade; and exposed electronic equipment near the front stairs.

“There are definitely more violations than what is on the list,” Rosales said, “and it’s hard to be sympathetic when the list is so long.” 

The current owner will need to rectify all the violations before selling the house or the new owner would be responsible to address them in the future, per the commission.

In another matter, the commission approved as submitted an application to install Verizon cell-phone antenna at 37-41 Bowdoin St. The commission denied without prejudice an earlier iteration of this application during its Nov. 15 because the equipment would’ve been visible from a public way.

“We moved the antennas to the south slightly,” said Michael Giaimo, an attorney representing the applicant, “and flesh-mounted them to the penthouse to reduce the profile and eliminate the enclosure.”

The commission denied without prejudice an application to install three visible HVAC condensers at the rear of 30 Hancock St. and instructed the applicant to come back with a new application, or work with staff to find a way to obscure their visibility from a public way.

Also, the commission denied another application without prejudice to install piping on several windows at 166 Charles St. for an irrigation system for four window-boxes.

Nicholas Armata, a senior preservation planner for the city, said he would be willing to work with the applicant to find a way to conceal the irrigation pipes.

The commission approved as submitted an application to replace in kind two existing door/windows on the carriage house at 87 Mt. Vernon St.

Likewise, the commission approved as submitted an application for 107 Myrtle St. to replace the bead-board siding on a partially visible head-house with black, vertical-panel siding.

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