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Neighborhood Council Opposes Revised St. Leonard’s Rectory Conversion Proposal

A revised proposal for the former St. Leonard’s rectory at 14 N. Bennet St. was opposed 5-4 by the North End/ Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) during their monthly meeting on Monday evening.

14 N. Bennet St. proposal with fifth floor addition that features a 3′ setback.

The proposal is requesting to change the legal occupancy of the building from a rectory to six residential units. The previous version, which was presented in December 2019, was petitioning for eight residential units.

Following ongoing neighborhood opposition, the developers also decided to eliminate rear balconies and a roof deck from the plans. Other revisions included changing the one-story addition’s setback from 6′ to 3′ to allow for what the developers called ‘planter decks’.

However, abutters continued to express their concerns about whether the building could structurally handle the addition of a fifth floor. Residents from the Christopher Columbus condominiums also expressed privacy and noise concerns from the decks, even though developers stated that the structures would only exist to allow residents to place plants on.

Citing noise and privacy concerns, North End resident Thomas Schiavoni expressed that the integrity of the church’s sacristy and the comfort of the elderly clergy living in the nearby friary would be negatively impacted by the current proposal’s plans. Although the revision has eliminated rear balconies, Schiavoni stated that the proposed French windows were no different from French doors and still posed the same privacy/noise concerns.

One resident pointed out that windows are important for proper air quality and noted that changing the types of windows would not necessarily eliminate those aforementioned concerns.

A resident from the Christopher Columbus condominiums expressed frustration at the lack of communication with the developers about the project.

Existing violations include the building’s floor area ratio, roof, rear yard, and parking. The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing is scheduled for November 10th.

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