Real Estate

Neighborhood Groups Split Votes on Zoning Relief for 5 Jackson Avenue [Videos]

The two North End / Waterfront neighborhood groups disagreed in separate meetings this week on whether to support or oppose zoning relief at 5 Jackson Avenue. At the center of the discussion is a rooftop 348 square foot addition adjacent to an abutting resident property at 3 Jackson Avenue.

North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) voted unanimously to support the proposal while North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) voted 15-22 to oppose zoning relief at the property. The NEWNC meeting video is shown above and the NEWRA meeting video is shown at the end of this post.

Renderings by 5 Jackson Ave architect of the addition (tan) with abutting 3 Jackson Ave shown in rear (gray)

Charlie and Carla Kim, represented by Attorney Daniel Toscano, are new owners of 5 Jackson Avenue and have applied to change the legal occupancy of the building from a two-family dwelling to a one-family dwelling. They propose to erect a one-story addition with a private roof deck. The building will be fully sprinklered and the height will be 46 feet. The owners and their multi-generational family intend to occupy the building.

Abutter rendering of impact from 3 Jackson Ave

Speaking in opposition of the zoning relief are Paul Kafasis and his partner Maggie who own and reside at 3 Jackson Avenue. The abutters are concerned about impact on light, air and views from their property as a result of the addition. They presented images of the impact on their views, also noting the light well between the 2 properties.

Both NEWNC and NEWRA are advisory to city officials at the Zoning Board of Appeal who will make the final determination. A hearing date is expected in early July.

29 Replies to “Neighborhood Groups Split Votes on Zoning Relief for 5 Jackson Avenue [Videos]

  1. My grandfather Nicola Sacco bought 5 Jackson Ave. in the 1900’s. A most beautiful place to bring up his family. Who would have thought it would become a million dollar property.

  2. NEWRA got it wrong. 3 Jackson was an illegal build and has no legal standing. They should buy the “million dollar view” from 5 Jackson or stand down.

    1. Matt b: 3 Jackson Ave is the first of the row houses on the ‘Way’. How could it have been illegal. Most of the properties have been renovated and are worth big $$$. Knowing that area as I do, I think the addition on #5 would be detrimental, both to #3 and #7. Before committees vote on structural changes, it would behoove them to have a look at the buildings in question. I don’t understand how people sitting around a table, looking at sketches can vote on an issue that involves monumental negative consequences.

  3. Elizabeth – I believe Matt is referring to the fact that the addition to 3 Jackson was put up illegally with no permits in the late 90’s.

    Aside from that the addition to 5 Jackson will, in fact, obstruct some of the views to 3 Jackson but not all of it. There is a stretch of windows about 6 but i believe only 2 will be obstructed.

    In addition this will have zero effect on 7 jackson who also sent in a letter of support of this project.

    We need to keep families in the north end not investors.

    When 3 jackson bought that property they had to no there are no guarentees just like 5 jackson will have if 7 jackson decides to build up.

    1. Thank you for the information Steven. I do agree that there are no guarantees, however, nothing is black or white. Why the two families don’t talk and share opinions before this goes before NEWRA / or the zoning board, is beyond me. It is a tiny piece of land in the North End, but a very lovely one, and to arouse tensions is not neighborly. Can’t #5 understand what implications there are in the addition?Are we that cruel. Would you fight for an addition that would upset #3 ..the view, the air, etc., whether or not their deck was illegal. As I said, to vote on a paper of sketches, especially in the case of Jackson Ave is not intelligent. Hotels and housing appears to be less invasive….on a certain level. You know, I may not read this newspaper in the future, because I do become upset regarding additions and buildings just filling in space.As you can read, what is happening to the North End is heartbreaking to me. Just driving in from Somerville yesterday and having a glimpse of the high ‘risers’ looming over our neighborhood was a shock. Thank you for responding to me.

      1. I agree with you on many levels as I am a lifelong resident but i do believe they did try to work this out prior to the voting.

        when rent control left so did the families and i feel strongly about keeping families in the north end instead of investors who care more about their view than the actual community.

        Again, if their entire view was obstructed i may see it differently but it is not the case here and therefore he should not be entitled to “his” view as he still has one – in my humble opinion.

  4. What a greedy move this seems to be! Having watched both videos, NEWRA listened and got it right while NEWNC just wrongly rubber-stamped it.

    Steven, even the sketches from the applicant clearly show far more than 2 windows being obstructed and the image provided by 3 is awfully damning. I don’t know what was built at 3, but if it was built in the 90s, it was there before these new owners at 5 bought in! I don’t know why you mention investors, the guy from 3 said he and his partner live there.

    1. I guess they also got it right when they agreed to unanimously vote in favor adding more apts to 3 stillman? That’s just what we need in the north end. More college students ruining my neighborhood.

  5. Utter BS that 3 Jackson Ave has a build-on but they don’t want their neighbors to have one. The Kims are doing it the right way by sprinkling, nice looking design, etc. talk about a NIMBY.

  6. Those sketches provided are not to scale and only provide one view. I, too can play with designs on a computer and make things appear worse (or better) depending on your position

    He and his partner rent out the other units and that is the investment I speak of.

    Here is a family, the Kim’s, looking to raise their family here and stay long term and not trying to profit of this. To me that is worth more than one persons view.

    I just don’t feel like they own the view because the moves there first. They took a chance and hope that no one will build up just like the Kim’s are.

  7. Everyone keeps saying how ‘nice’ these people are yet they seem to be horrible neighbors.

    THEY BOUGHT 5 JACKSON AVE KNOWING FULL WELL THAT ZONING PROHIBITED AN ADDITION. Buying on the cheap and then get a zoning variance by hurting your neighbor is just a dirty move.

    It is obvious they are counting on their connected friends at the school, church and city hall.

    Why didn’t they just buy a bigger property somewhere else in the neighborhood? There are plenty of bigger places on the waterfront.

    People may not have the right to a view but neither do they have the right to take away someone else’s view either.

    1. Many properties purchased in the north end require zoning relief when making changes. This includes additions as well as non additions. So your point is not logical in that sense.

      I guess i could say that they bought the property knowing that this could happen. They have a huge addition already. One that got done illegally and we may not be having this discussion. Yes they bought it legally but that shouldn’t mean no else has a right to build up.

      If they bought it for 750k that would be on the cheap. Furthermore, if you watched the video I believe it was stated several times they searched for 3 years. Remember, this is the north end and finding a place that meets everyone’s needs is nearly impossible.

      There is more to this than you know but I respect your position/opinion.

    1. Zoning does not prevent an addition. The zoning variance has to do with the conversion of 2 family to a single family and the addition. The zoning limit is 55FT so 48 ft is well within the zoning regs and most variances probably have to do with floor area ratios (FAR) and parking. If those windows are in the side of #3’s addition, they might be illegal and they might have no legal stance. There is nothing in the zoning regulations that guarantee views unless it is related to the view corridor to the Old North Church. The North End needs families and not just students and fresh out of college young professionals. The height limits in the West End are the height limits in the west end. A 48 ft building is not a skyscraper

      1. Well said and accurate. I agree with all your comments. He has a legal right to build even higher and is choosing not to and made several revisions to lessen the obstruction but to no avail.

        Folks on this site are personally attacking the Kim’s and that is unfortunate. But I guess when you have little to no legal position that is all you are left with.

  8. Joyce, you are correct. #3 was worth a million – perhaps more. The current owners did not build up, so does that justify a new neighbor ruining their view and air space? I think not. The issue is above and beyond right from wrong; zoning board; and our limited opinion. it involves our human condition……a sensitivity to existing circumstances. It involves a bit of empathy toward their neighbors. A brand new resident who lacks sensitivity is at the root. It does not speak well of the family…..what makes them believe they can move into a lovely ‘way’ and disturb what has existed previously. To me it all sounds callous and greedy, with no objective concern for anyone else. I do hope the zoning board does not pass this.

  9. I am really sick and tired of hearing about people and “their” view. Folks feel they are entitled to something that doesn’t belong to them or anyone else for that matter.

    Again, they are not taking away their entire view and you can minimize the fact this was added illegally but that is at the root of this issue and therefore can not be eliminated from the discussion.

    When 3 jackson bought this he didnt purchase the air rights from charter st to commercial st. They simply hoped no one would build up. Their addition as it currently stands is ridiculous and spans the entire roof top therefore anyone who wants to build up would obstruct his view in some way.

    3 jackson is reaping the benefits of an illegal addition and now they don’t want anybody else to have what they have. Sorry but i am in favor of 5 jackson’s proposal.

      1. i grew up in a time when no one cared about views in the north end – all they really cared was raising their families IN the northend. It wasn’t about money. It was about family.

        Not sure we talked to the same people because many feel as I do and keeping families in the north end and are in favor of 5 jackson

  10. After watching the video, both the Kims and the Kafasis couple seem like people we want in the neighborhood. Being here so long, the Kims obviously have a lot more friends to support them, which is what seemed to get them support at the NEWNC meeting. Must be nice to have friends on the council.

    I wonder what would have happened if the roles were reversed and the Kims were at 3 Jackson Avenue? I bet their friends in the neighborhood would be yelling that putting on an addition is horrible. Can you really blame the abutters there for protecting their property?

    I posted this under the skinny hotel post, but it actually applies here even more. Abutters do have rights to protect light, air and yes, even views. The abutter at 3 Jackson shows the light well that is being blocked by this addition. The courts have blocked additions right here in the North End.

    In McGee, et al. v. Board of Appeal, et al., 62 Mass. App. Ct. 930 (2005), the Appeals Court … upholding the right of immediate abutters to challenge a large addition to an already overbuilt three-family building. In so doing, it lent support to emerging bases for standing, including loss of view, open space and privacy,

    1. Johnny: A bldg on Snelling pl wanted to add a floor and it was turned down. Reason: Not good for neighbors. So here we go……who does Zoning Brd push through and who do they reject.

    1. Steven, you seem pretty invested. Especially in this bizarre “FAMILIES IN THE NORTH END” commentary. Why are the residents at 3 Jackson less valuable? And how do you know they rent out “other units”? That was never stated in the presentations.

      They purchased a house with a lovely view. It is not unreasonable to want to maintain that view. They seem very willing to work with the Kims for a mutually satisfactory outcome.

      What seems UNREASONABLE to me, is to buy a home that does not suit your needs and then to EXPECT everyone else to capitulate to your demands. The Kims bought an expensive home and are undertaking expensive renovations. I find it hard to believe that this was the only home in the city to suit their needs. Seems to me they just thought they were entitled to exactly what they wanted, without any regard for their neighbors.

      Are these the kind of people we want in the North End?

      1. I wasn’t going to post anymore but….

        Hi Amy ~ Let me be clear. I never stated 3 Jackson is less valuable as a resident. I don’t even know them. I believe I actually stated if the Kim’s were blocking their entire view, air, etc… I may not see it the same way. I care strongly about keeping families in the North End (I disagree it’s bizarre to think that way) and just know that I am 100% certain they have a renter. Why would they mention this at the meeting? It serves them no purpose to do so.

        Yes, 3 Jackson purchased a lovely house and I do not begrudge them of trying to protect it. I never said they shouldn’t protect it.

        The Zoning Board exists for this very reason. People purchase homes all the time and request relief for all sorts of reasons. Just 2 minutes before the Kim’s proposal was another gentleman seeking relief. My point – it happens all the time and therefore (in my opinion) makes that irrelevant. Taking it a step furhter, if you apply this thinking to every request of NEWRA then they most certainly have to deny most, if not all, zoning relief requests.

        You do not know the Kim’s as I do ~ they are not “ENTITLED” individuals and casting judgement on people without knowing them is simply wrong. I am not sure how Elizabeth can call your comments as “objective” as they do not fit the definition.

        Let me ask you this about the type of people you want to reside in the North End: Do you want people who are respectful? Volunteer their time in our community? Are great role models? Support many events sponsored by the NEAD and NEAA (I hope you know what these acronyms stand for)? Raise their children with incredible values? If you answered yes then you are talking about the Kim’s and therefore answered your question for me.

        In the end, this will be decided by the law not by any of our feelings but I sincerely hope that both parties can mutually agree on something.

  11. Amy: …… an intelligent comment which takes a more objective ‘view’ of the situation. Great !

    1. Objective: Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.
      It seems to me that most of Amy’s comments are just the opposite.

  12. Elizabeth, your comment “it does not speak well of the family” is reprehensible. If you had the first clue who these people are and the positive role model they set for parents dealing with complex health issues facing a child, you would feel utterly worthless.

    That you invoke that kind of language to a debate that frankly has ZERO to do with whether or not you like someone speaks volumes about your lack of sensibilities (I hope you don’t have children) and intellect.

    I was not going to post this, but I think it is important people know the calibre of elected representatives really needs to improve. Walk a day in their shoes before replying to this. And while you are at it, apologize for your snarky comment.

    1. You hope I don’t have children? That is a very cruel remark. Very nasty. And with your hateful comment, I take leave of this on- line paper, now that I have been exposed to the calibre of the likes of you.

  13. You gave 2 orders…or were they threats. Walk a day in their shoes and apologize. Are you serious?

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