BHAC Approves EV Charging Station With Caveats

The Beacon Hill Architectural Commission unanimously approved the requested installation of an EV (Electric Vehicle) charging station at the street-level as part of an application for 6 Louisburg Square during its most-recent monthly public hearing, which took place virtually on Oct. 15.

The commission unanimously approved installing the outlet, with caveats that it be flush with the sidewalk, and that the applicant provide a letter of assent from the other resident owners of Louisburg Square, who collectively own the cobblestones, sidewalk light fixtures and everything else located between the edges of their personal residences and the street.

“Staff recommends approving the EV since we’re in the middle of climate crisis, and it could help us achieve our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030,” added Nick Armata, senior preservation planner for the city.

Rob Whitney, chair of the Beacon Hill Civic Association board of directors, who first suggested to the applicant that the charger could be built flush with the sidewalk instead of as a traditional granite charging-block as was originally proposed, said, “We’re not opposing [the charger] – on the contrary, we’re saying, ‘how do we bring it into the historic fabric of the neighborhood?’”

They could be made to resemble similar outlets for water and gas found in the neighborhood, Whitney said, while the chargers could be “waterproofed in a simple way.”

“But really the issue is precedent,” Whitney added, “because street furniture is prohibited [in the neighborhood’s historic district] except under certain circumstances.”

As part of the same application, the commission approved requests to replace the front door (which it deemed may also be painted “Rembrandt red”) and the frame, with the caveat that the sidelights be restored; to replace all front windows on the front façade; to replace the garden-level door but without a recess; and to replace the existing skylights and install HVAC units on the roof, which are not visible from a public way.

The commission also unanimously approved as submitted a new business’s application for storefront signage and window decals at 99 Charles St.

The new business, Gus & Ruby Letterpress, a custom design and print studio with other locations in Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine, intend to install a double-sided wood sign, measuring 36 inches in diameter, with raised aluminum lettering attached to the storefront, as well as a decal listing its hours of operation in the entry-door window.

In another matter, the commission approved an application for proposed work at 62 Chestnut St. that architect Frank McGuire described as “replacing existing windows in the building with new, compliant, wood, true divided-light windows” at the front and rear facades; this came with the caveat that the applicant provide two letters from  restoration specialists, such as Olde Bostonian of Dorchester, verifying that the windows are indeed beyond repair.

The commission also approved an application for 33 Branch St. to replace front door hardware, as well as to repaint the front façade, trim, shutters and doors, with the caveat that the façade and lintels remain painted gray (and that the shade be approved by staff).

Meanwhile, three applicants who were scheduled to appear before the commission were no-shows, including one for the proposed reconstruction of a chimney at 30 Chestnut St. which was deferred from the September hearing because of pending violations including removal of historic windows without a certificate of appropriateness; another to replace the front door and hardware at 24 Garden St.; and a third to rebuild a chimney at 55 Pinckney St., respectively. Work at these locations is not allowed to proceed without the applicants first attending a future public hearing of the BHAC and getting approval from the commission. 

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