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471-477 Hanover St. Opposed by Residents’ Association (NEWRA)

The North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) voted against the 471-477 Hanover St. proposal at their February meeting in a vote of 4 in support, 14 opposed.

The proposal, presented by Attorney Dan Toscano, seeks to change the legal occupancy from seven residential units to six, expanding each unit to create newly-renovated, high-end condominiums. The main issues raised by abutters were with the addition of exterior wood decks and resulting noise and privacy concerns.

The current building at 471-477 Hanover Street is in poor condition, requiring a full gut renovation to make the building more structurally sound. In the process, the petition wants to add living space to the rear dormers in order to create one full dormer and add rear decks. The building would also have one main entrance and a center stairwell, as opposed to the existing two separate entrances and stairwells.

The height of the building is not changing. There are two zoning violations. The first is the floor-area-ratio (FAR). In this neighborhood there is an FAR of 3—the building is currently at 3.2 so it’s already in violation. By adding the additional living space the FAR would increase to 3.77. The second violation is the rear yard setback—the requirement is 12 feet, the building is currently 11 feet from the next building, and the rear decks would change the rear yard setback to only 6 feet.

At 2:15 in the video, an abutter asked about the dimensions of the rear decks. She said she has been told a few different numbers and it is unclear what the exact measurements really will be. The petitioner explained that the decks would be 14″ x 5.5″ per unit, so 28″ long when the two unit decks per floor are side by side.

Units one and two on the ground floor will have outdoor patio space. The rest of the units would have rear decks to provide some outside space for these residents. The decks would look out at a brick wall, although an abutter stated there are windows on the side (6:42) and if the decks are 30 feet long total, not 20 feet as one abutter states she was told, residents on the decks would look directly into the bedroom window of a neighboring building. The petitioner stated he would be willing to shrink the length of the decks to cut off that line of sight.

(12:47) Another abutter expressed his opposition to the decks. He stated the six decks would be uncomfortably close to the surrounding buildings and explained that noise in that area reverberates, creating an echo because of the C-shape layout of the buildings. He argued the units will have plenty of windows, natural light, and interior space so the decks are unnecessary.

NEWRA discussed whether they should vote or have the petitioner and abutters work out their disagreements and come back for a vote when a final plan can be proposed. (19:08) Attorney Toscano said he would be open to coming to update NEWRA, but asked for a vote as the city won’t set a zoning board of appeals hearing date until the community process is complete. Toscano said the hearing date would not be until at least April, so he could present updates at the March NEWRA meeting.

(19:41) Former NEWRA president Mary McGee stated her opposition to the rear decks, echoing others’ concerns of noise and privacy.

(22:00) The petitioner emphasized these units will be family-oriented, and will not attract individuals who would be partying and creating noise late at night. The condo rules would have restrictions that include no rentals.

(25:35) NEWRA President Cheryl Delgreco suggested Juliet balconies.

(27:10) Vice President Jennifer Crampton asked if there was a possibility that they would come back with revised plans without decks. Attorney Toscano said they want to work with the neighbors, but they definitely want some outside space.

After much debate, NEWRA decided to vote on the petition. The association voted in opposition.

The 471-477 Hanover St. petition was also presented at the February North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC). The council supported the proposal with a vote of 7-1.

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