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Harry J. Vlachos, Chairman
Stuart J. Bailey, Member
Carlos Fernandez, Member
On Wednesday evening, June 24,
2009 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Administration Building, the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing. In attendance: Harry J.
Vlachos, Chairman; Melissa M. Santucci Clerk;
Stuart J. Bailey, Member; Deborah Elliott, Member; Carlos Fernandez, Member; Nancy Scott, Zoning Enforcement Officer;
Steve Magoon, Director, Community Development and Planning;
Louise Civetti, Clerk.
Chair Vlachos opened the meeting, introduced the
board and staff and swore in the audience.
The first item on the agenda is to
approve the minutes of the last meeting and the April meeting; however, Chair
Vlachos postponed the vote to the July meeting.
Ms. Santucci read the legal notice
for the first case:
Kevin M. Smith, 259 Lexington
Street, Watertown, MA, herein request the Board of Appeals grant a Special
Permit Finding in accordance with §4.06(a), Alts/Additions to
Non-Conforming Structures, Side Yard Setback, Zoning Ordinance, so as to
construct a two-story rear addition, 15?x40.9?, over existing patio,
maintaining non-conforming northerly side yard setback of 8?-8.1?, where 10? is
required at 259-261 Lexington Street, located in the Two-Family (T)
Kevin Smith, owner, together with
his wife and two children, proposes to put an addition on the back of the
house, 15?x41?. His case was pushed back one month because the Planning Staff
suggested a redesign after he had planned to have a first floor bump out with
the patio underneath and now they are enclosing the aboveground basement. He
said the house is a Federalist style and he now plans on putting hardy plank
instead of brick on the exterior of the addition, changing the windows and then
open-up some of the windows that were bricked up in the 70?s in the front of
the house and add shutters to complement the architectural style of the house.
The framing and foundation plans were just received last night and he is not
sure yet if he is going to do a sono-tube or a full foundation. The latest
statement is 6/9/09 and the plans are dated 6/23/09, pages 1-8.
Mr. Fernandez urges the petitioner
to check the building code regarding the spiral stair, as he does not believe
that that can serve as a second means of egress for the apartment above.
Mr. Vlachos asked about the
accessory apartment. Mr. Smith said it could be a two bedroom.
Ms. Santucci asked if the deck is
subject to the rear yard setback. Mr. Smith said it is labeled as a deck but
it is more of a second floor egress. Ms. Scott noted that this is the same
situation as Loomis Street, where the board did not approve it.
Ms. Santucci required clarification
of the plan layout. Mr. Smith explained that the street level is the first
floor plan and the property slopes down towards the back so the rear is above
ground ? the bedrooms on the first floor at the back of the house are not at
grade level. The addition is for the first floor apartment. There are 2.5
stories above his kitchen.
No one spoke from the audience.
Chair Vlachos declared a business mode and read from the Planning Board report,
which approved the case with no peculiar conditions and met the requirements of
the special permit finding.
Mr. Fernandez is in opposition of
extending the non-conforming conditions of adding a two-story addition to that
side of the house. Better interior design can reduce the addition by two feet
and comply with the 10? setback on the side yard. He has always voted against
such applications and he will vote against this one. Chair Vlachos clarified
that such applications means alterations of non-conforming structures that are
too big. Mr. Fernandez said the neighbor is 8? away from the property line and
it is a matter of having a tighter, better interior design at the first floor.
Ms. Santucci asked if the opening
in the family room is required for egress and if it is their back door. Ms.
Scott stated that there is a side entrance as well as a front door. Ms.
Santucci stated that the rear deck could be eliminated, as there are two
Ms. Santucci asked if their plans
could accommodate a stairway that would meet the building code. Mr. Smith
stated that the spiral does meet building code. He chose the spiral to save
space. He added that the other house doesn?t come back as far if that has any
bearing on the decision. Mr. Fernandez said it is still a side-yard issue and
the requirement is a good thing. Mr. Smith said that is why he is here.
Chair Vlachos asked him if he had
to change the stair, how that would affect the plans. Mr. Smith said it would
eat up space or square footage in the family area and the master. Mr.
Fernandez suggested that he eliminate the landing from the first floor and run
the stairs straight down from the second floor to get under where they have the
Ms. Elliott added that Ms. Scott
stated the spiral stair is allowable. Ms. Scott said that this is considered a
two-family for building code issues and the building inspector has looked at
this. He is expecting a fire rated around it. Mr. Fernandez said that a
spiral stair is an awful way to move quickly downward. He added that he
believes this is a bad call from a safety perspective. Mr. Smith said that he
is open to Mr. Fernandez?s suggestion of a straight stair.
Mr. Smith stated that the rear
egress and the staircase with the double door is one of the primary reasons for
putting the addition on and he is going to hold firm to that. Ms. Santucci
said that it violate the rear yard setback as it is not a required egress and
he doesn?t have a request for variance relief. Mr. Smith said that he wants
the rear egress and will take into consideration eliminating the side door.
Ms. Scott said that the rear is not required according to these plans.
Mr. Smith said with the Planning
Board they made the back elevation symmetrical with the two-sets of double
doors and redesigned the layout. Mr. Fernandez said there is a balcony on one
side and a stair on the other.
Ms. Santucci asked why he needs three
doors at the basement. Mr. Fernandez said that one would go for the second
means of egress; one goes into the den and one on the side. Ms. Santucci asked
how he gets to the den from his unit. Mr. Smith said through the existing basement
that is not finished.
Mr. Smith said that in addition to
the proposal that they want, they are spending considerable cost and time to
bring this structure back to its? historic prominence. It is a federalist
house from the 1830?s and Eli Whitney?s family and they are listening to the
Planning Boards recommendations with the historical requirements although he is
not in a historical district and they are trying to do what they can to help
out and be good stewards of the property.
Ms. Santucci said she doesn?t mind
the addition and the extension of the non-conforming setback but there was a
case last month where the board asked the petitioner to remove a third means of
egress and looking at these plans, there are several means of egress. Mr.
Smith asked why they would want to limit their means of egress. Ms. Santucci
explained that the board couldn?t grant a variance if it was not requested in
the legal notice. Mr. Fernandez explained that the rear setback requires 20?
and the stairway is 18.7?. He suggested that if the plan got tighter with a
better design, he would avoid most of these requests.
Mr. Vlachos said that a variance
would be needed for the deck or remove the deck or come back and change more
things. Mr. Fernandez said that he is dealing with 1.3? and 2? on the sideyard
? if the plan gets tighter, he can gain everything he wants. Mr. Smith said it
is not an unreasonable request otherwise; he would have put the 2? jog in the side
that would not have looked good.
Ms. Scott asked if he was willing
to eliminate the stairway in the back. Mr. Smith said he would eliminate the
egress on the side. He has two kids and that back stairway is how they get to
the back. Now they have to go out the side and down the side. Ms. Santucci
added that he can get out to the back from the family room in the basement.
Ms. Elliott said they cut the width
of the addition by 1.3?. Chair Vlachos repeated the choices ? have the
proposed addition without the rear exit; reconfigure this and keep the rear
exit; or Mr. Smith added, I could do nothing.
Mr. Fernandez added that on
federalist style houses, the corners are important elements in the
understanding and experience of the house and the fact that they are adding an
addition that hides the corners is not historically sensitive. The setback
makes the historical standpoint clearer not less so.
Mr. Smith interpreted the side
setback requirement for houses that were there before the side setback was in
place and that house was there and it is not that much of a detriment to the
situation. Mr. Fernandez said that he holds a different opinion and will be
consistent with his voting.
Mr. Vlachos said he could continue
the case, if he chooses. Mr. Smith said he has already delayed this one month
based on the Planning Board?s consultation.
Mr. Fernandez said he would want to
see the side and rear setbacks in conformity. Ms. Santucci does not have an
issue with the side yard setback but would want the rear stair eliminated as it
violates the requirements. Ms. Elliott agrees with Ms. Santucci. Mr. Bailey
agrees with Ms. Santucci. Chair Vlachos stated that this would not pass
tonight if there were a vote. The choices are to get a denial and not do
anything or to eliminate the rear deck (and it would pass tonight without the
rear deck), or reconfigure the addition to jog it in or pull it back perhaps. Ms.
Scott suggested building it in compliance and avoiding the request before the
board. Mr. Vlachos added that he could continue it to next month. Ms.
Santucci will not be available at the July meeting, there will only be four
members present at July, and a unanimous vote is necessary ? which Mr.
Fernandez has stated would not pass. It would then have to be continued to
September. Ms. Scott said if the applicant is willing to remove the stairway
in the back, the board could vote tonight and pass the request without losing
an additional month. Ms. Santucci explained that if he decided to make the
addition is 12?, add the rear stair, and take off the side door that could be
done as a modification because it is within the same footprint. He can have
the vote this evening.
Mr. Smith said he would take off
the rear door and the rear landing deck. Mr. Vlachos said the control plans would
be modified to reflect that change and new paperwork would need to be
Ms. Santucci motioned to grant the
request for the two-story rear addition, maintaining the non-conforming side
yard setback of 8-8.1? with the removal of the rear deck with the conditions as
stated in the Planning board report. Ms. Elliott seconded. Voted 4-1 Granted
(Mr. Fernandez voted in opposition).
Ms. Santucci read the legal notice:
for the Blind, 175 North Beacon Street, Watertown, MA herein requests the Board
of Appeals to grant a Special Permit Site Plan Review in accordance with
Section 5.00(f), New Construction Exceeding 4,000 Square Feet, Zoning
Ordinance, so as to permit alterations of Lower School Building - removing
school house area (37,000 sf) and convert to residential space; further
decommission use of 3rd fl area of Potter & Glover cottages
(14,800 sf); construct 3-story school building, 53,786 sf inclusive of
basement, 234? x 126?, having a proposed sloping roof height at 54?-11?,
exceeding allowable 40?; providing 6 additional parking spaces, where 13 add?l
are required. No student or staff increase. Seeking waiver on height and parking.
Various site improvements including relocation of westerly 108-space parking
lot with new drop-off area and reconfigure existing north parking lot; raze 2
residential houses; open second vehicle access drive from N. Beacon Street; at
the property known as Perkins School for the Blind, 175 North Beacon Street,
located in the Two-Family (T) Zoning District.
Warren Tolman, Attorney, Holland
& Knight, and resides at 30 Stoneleigh Circle, Watertown, stated he extends
regrets from Steven Rothstein who had a prior commitment but very much wanted
to be here and is very involved in the project. Mr. Tolman, speaking
personally as a life-long resident of Watertown, states that Perkins is a jewel
in Watertown, a great neighbor, an active member of the community and the
world. Part of their 100-year history there are buildings that have been up
and are in need of repair. The decrease in enrollment from 300 to 200 over the
past 20 years is hard to believe but a reflection of the greater need that
these students have with more challenges than before. He is proud of Perkins
and their commitment to the community. Mr. Tolman read the letter from Steven
Rothstein, stating that these major renovations will not increase the number of
students. The letter detailed the request and all of the changes that will
take place. Mr. Tolman then introduced Mr. Hoffman.
Ken Hoffman, Holland & Knight,
wants to be sure his memo from May 21 is in the file for the board regarding a
Dover Amendment case. The two items differing on the ordinance are height and
parking. Parking has been determined to be 13 new spaces; however, they do not
have students that drive and the count for the auditorium space at one space
per eight seats does not apply as they have a large wheelchair contingent and
other handicap aides, which render the auditorium capacity to be not equal to a
conventional capacity. The height is in excess of the ordinance as they wish
to make the building architecturally similar to other buildings on the campus ?
a flat roof would not look in character. In his May 21 memo, the Boston College case is exactly on point for parking issues and the height question.
Dan Dyer, Miller, Dyer, Spears, Boston, MA, Architect, gave a brief overview of the plans stating that Perkins really has
three schools on campus: an elementary school, a secondary school, currently
located in the Howe Building, and a program specifically for deaf/blind. Three
programs on campus?
Tape 1 of 2, Side B
Mr. Dyer continued, stating that
they tried many options including staying within the existing facility, which
was built in 1910 and does not meet the needs of the students today. The
students have to go outside to go in between classes, as these buildings are
more vertical than horizontal. They cam up with a scheme to redo part of the
lower school with two new residential cottages and with the extra space, they
will decommission the third floor and use it for swing space. They will build
the new school with 40,000 square feet plus a basement. Mr. Dyer presented a
couple of drawing boards showing the campus and the location of the new
buildings, parking, existing curb cut, a drop off, emergency exit, and stated
the new plan is a much safer plan for the students. They chose to build three
stories as opposed to two, so it would not take up open space and keep the
campus green. They feel the building should have a gable roof to blend in with
the 1910 architecture and it is not usable space. The height will be 52 ?
53?. The auditorium and the gym have flat roofs and there is a green roof
incorporated in the front of the building to bring the scale down. Mr. Dyer
noted that the existing buildings are three stories and narrow at 32? wide. A
school building needs to be 60? wide.
Steven Garvin, Engineer, was sworn
in and began by explaining the drainage. One concept is to go away from
putting a lot of structures in the ground for retention (the Planning Board,
Conservation Commission and DEP) have all look over this project. They tried
to utilize the existing pond for a ?country? drainage perspective to minimize
the amount of pipes. There is an outlet for the pond through a 10 inch pipe,
which works its? way through the MDC system to the Charles River. A gate will
be added to reduce and restrict for larger storms to hold back the water for a
short time to improve the stromwater water quality through structures in the
parking lot area but then allows everything to flow over land. The roof drains
will infiltrate underneath the relocated playground and works its? way to the
Mr. Fernandez asked if they had
considered the LEEDS certification. Mr. Garvin explained that the project is
being designed from a LEEDS perspective and have submitted to the CHPS Program,
which is similar to LEEDS for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is more
structured towards schools. They have added a green roof for environmental and
Mr. Fernandez asked about the
parking lot. Mr. Garvin said they have worked with conservation and they have
left 8-9 feet on the parking way to feed the trees and vegetation along the
edge as opposed to feeding into the drainage. They are finding ways to
infiltrate additional water into the environment and save some of the trees.
Mr. Fernandez asked why the parking
lot is all paved and is the biggest green opportunity. He is surprised they
have not pursued the environmental quality of the Perkins School for the next
100 years by not falling back on traditional parking products.
Ms. Elliott asked Mr. Fernandez
what types of materials he is speaking of. Mr. Fernandez said not asphalt,
more shading so that the hard surfaces do not retain so much heat?
Mr. Garvin said an existing parking
area is being redesigned to allow for a green patch through the middle of it.
They need to have hard surfaces and straight edges for the students and
faculty. The soils are very poor and they considered a pervious surface;
however the silt material underneath would require a tremendous amount of
structure. It is not an increase in pavement; they are keeping the trees to
increase the shading.
Mr. Bailey asked if the two trees
that are near the new entrance could be saved by moving the curb cut further
down. Mr. Garvin said the curb cut is existing and there is a hill further
down. There is also a street across the way and would limit the ability to
take a left turn.
Marilyn Pettito Devaney, 98 Westminster Ave., a lifelong resident and proud to have Perkins, a historic site and her
late mother-in-law was the switchboard operator at Perkins. She has known Mr.
Rothstein for 20 years and he cares for the neighbors and community. She is
representing the Commission on Disability and they are pleased with the ADA accommodations. The neighbors on Riverside Street will benefit from the lessened
cut-through traffic. She added that Watertown has always been sensitive to the
needs of the students at Perkins and as a child she thought all cities and
towns had bells ringing when it was safe to cross the street.
Chair Vlachos declared a business
mode and reported from the Planning Board and Staff their recommendation to
approve the petition with conditions along with the site plan review criteria
and the ordinance for excess height in regards to the Dover Amendment and parking
with lower requirements due to the students.
Ms. Santucci said the waiver for
height and parking is appropriate for this use and literal enforcement would be
detrimental to this site.
Mr. Fernandez said this is a campus
setting and the zoning guidelines are not a good match. The setbacks are over
100? and he agrees with Ms. Santucci in supporting the application.
Mr. Bailey asked if there is an
issue with the cars (traffic) being moved from Riverside to North Beacon Street.
Mr. Garvin said there is a report from VHB using the existing curb cut and it
states that it is an improvement on campus and for the neighborhood. Chair
Vlachos added that there is a traffic study by VHB dated November 15, 2008.
Mr. Magoon stated that the staff concurs with the report.
Ms. Elliott supports the proposal;
she states the building is beautiful, the parking lot fits into the landscape,
saving some mature trees and adding landscaping.
Mr. Magoon stated that Perkins is a
wonderful asset to the community and as an international institution, any community
would be proud to have. Perkins has lived up to the reputation with staff and
replied to any issues brought to their attention and the waivers are in line
with the Dover Amendment. Ms. Scott and he reviewed the conditions and some of
them have already been met ? especially the looping of the water as the
applicants engineer has addressed that issue and provided that connection
(condition #16, and showing on the revised plan).
Chair Vlachos stated that this should
be narrowly construed as this is a campus situation and the height and parking
waiver are not something the board considers lightly. These students do not
Chair Vlachos said his earliest
memory of Perkins was as a child of 4, stealing peaches from the trees with his
sisters. He is glad that they are financially sound enough to embark on a
building process like this as the only time they have come before the board was
to put signs up on North Beacon Street.
Mr. Fernandez said the issue of water
consumption and energy savings and site planning issues relating to LEEDS
rating is not a small matter and Perkins has an opportunity to continue to be a
leader and deliver new construction that reduces the carbon footprint and
follows all of the LEEDS certification requirements. It is not a cost issue
anymore, there is not additional cost for these better design solutions. He
would urge Perkins to pursue the highest certification possible as the LEEDS program is changing in 2009 and a new rating for schools is coming out. They should
deliver the best construction for schools, including the parking lot. Hard
surfaces are many and not only asphalt.
Ms. Santucci motions to grant the
Special Permit for 4.00(f) with the waivers for height and parking as
discussed. Ms. Elliott seconded. Voted 5-0, granted.
Chair Vlachos took Other
Business before the continued case, as he will recuse himself from the
He explained 531 Main Street appears
to be working out and the issues seem to be resolved. He then swore in Bill
Mr. Daniels explained that since
the board met the last time, they have communicated with the zoning office, the
church fellows, and the nursery school. In a letter of June 15, 2009, revised
June 24, 2009, answering some questions, they outlined the changes. They have
relocated the HVAC unit, cut the concrete to reroute the refrigerant lines and are
patching the (areas where the HVAC was located). They have worked with Charlie
Casella, from the church, how to work this so there is no disturbance to the
church or the neighborhood. He then showed a drawing of the original
electrical panels and then he showed the smallest unit for the two-meter gang
they can install (19x60). They are installing a solid vinyl fence surround for
screening which will prevent children or anyone from getting to the meter
without being able to unlatch the fence. He then read into the record a letter
from David Martin, Maintenance, Watertown Cooperative Nursery School, thanking
the ZBA and Nancy Scott for keeping them informed of the installation changes.
They have reviewed the plans and all concerns have been addressed. The AC pad
and unit will be relocated to the south elevation, as approved on the control
plans, the conduit will be routed underground so as not to run across the Main Street elevation of the building per the ZBA?s request. The generator switch gear will
be removed and located interior. The meter head will be removed and relocated
to the location originally called for in the control drawings. The screening
will be a white vinyl fence or gate that will not intrude onto the adjacent
sidewalk or block the window. The building will be repaired and restored to
its previous condition.
Chair Vlachos asked for anyone from
the audience to speak ? no one spoke; however, when asked if they were happy
with the changes, several audience members nodded in agreement.
Mr. Fernandez asked what will
happen to the down spout that was cut. Mr. Daniels said the hose bib on the
side of the building will not be obscured and the down spout will be relocated
so there is not any water in the area of the meter ? it will be angled down so
as to not deposit water next to the foundation of the building.
Ms. Scott clarified that the new
control documents will be the plans submitted tonight from SAI as an amendment.
Ms. Santucci motioned to accept the
amended control documents site plan. Ms. Elliott seconded. Voted 4-1,
granted. Mr. Fernandez voted against, stating the historic elements of the
building are his concern.
Chair Vlachos recused himself from
the next case and reminded everyone that since there is a four member board
left, a unanimous vote is needed to pass. He formally appointed Ms. Santucci
to chair the remaining case.
Ms. Santucci appointed Mr.
Fernandez as the clerk and asked him to read the legal notice:
Araxie Margosian and Haigaz
Markarian, 15 Carlton Terrace, Watertown, MA, herein request the Board of
Appeals to grant a Special Permit Finding in accordance with §4.06(a),
Alts/Additions to Non-Conforming Structures, Side and Front Yard Setback,
Zoning Ordinance, so as to permit removal of existing roof, 46.2?x 26.9? and reconstruct
roof with easterly side shed dormer, 13.375?x 34?, maintaining non-conforming
side yard setback of 6.2? ? 6.3? where 10? is required and further raze front
entry porch, 8.5?x 6.8? and reconstruct to two-story and enlarge to 10.2?x
6.8?, maintaining non-conforming side yard setback at 6.3? where 10? is
required and n/c front yard setback of 12.9?, where 15? is required at 15-17
Carlton Terrace, located in the T (Two-Family) Zoning District.
Wayne Pelletier, Architect, stated
he was asked to help the residents design a plan for the aesthetics of the home
due to the last plan having multiple angles on the home. He looked at how to
bring the hip-style back onto the home. He took the drawings from the last
entry and took photos of the existing home as well as showing his plans to note
Tape 2 of 2 , Side A
Mr. Pelletier redesigned two
options ? B1 and B2. He said the dormer is not extending the entire length of
the house. He also has photos of existing houses in the area that have the
dormer right up to the front of the house and photos of homes that have the
dormer set back ? like his plans will show for this petitioner. He
reintroduced the hip roof on the house ? the slope has increased as the legal
ceiling height requires them to raze the ridge. Mr. Pelletier spoke in detail
of the ridge, gable, dormer and trim; explained the size of the interior is not
changing; keeping the recessed balcony; and continuing the gutter-wall
continuing the roof across. B2 adds the gable detail accent over the two-story
entrance for curb appeal and to be consistent with the neighborhood. The
two-story roof will continue around the house. If the board accepts the plans,
he can have the original engineer re-stamp the plans. Mr. Pelletier then went
through the photos of the neighbors homes.
Mr. Fernandez asked if he
considered a hip roof over the back as opposed to a shed roof. Mr. Pelletier
said they can do that.
Mr. Fernandez asked if the chimney
has a cricket. Mr. Pelletier said it will get a new one.
Ms. Santucci said this is an
improvement over the drawings submitted last time and she chooses option B2.
Ms. Santucci declared a business
mode as there were no speakers from the audience.
Mr. Fernandez is in favor of B2
with the hip roof in the rear and a cricket on the chimney.
Ms. Elliott prefers B2, as well.
Mr. Fernandez motioned to approve
the application with the revised control documents, option B2 with a condition
that the hip roof be added to the back porch (Ms. Scott added: This will
continue as a two-family house ? the third floor cannot be used as a separate
unit.). Ms. Elliott seconded. Voted 4-0, granted.
Ms. Eliott motioned to adjourn.
Mr. Bailey seconded. Voted 4-0. Meeting ended at 8:45 p.m.