The Zoning Board of Appeal today approved a family's plans to build a second house on a vacant lot next to their current home on Avalon Road in West Roxbury.
The proposal, for 35 and 39 Avalon Rd. needed board approval because at 4,710 square feet, the lot falls short of the 6,000-square-foot minimum required by the street's current zoning, because the 2,400-square-foot house would be slightly larger than allowed on a lot that size and because the Hanley family proposed a single, shared driveway they proposed to handle parking for both their current home at 39 and the proposed house, which they said would be occupied by members of their family.
Chris and Nina Hanley's attorney, John Pulgini, said that every lot on the street save one falls short of the current zoning so the house would not be out of character. He said they trimmed their original 2,700-square-foot proposal down to 2,400.
One resident who backed the proposal said the Hanley's builder, Tony Ferrara, is top notch and that "this is a neighborhood that benefits from a family like the Hanleys."
But other residents said the house was just too large for the lot; one said it would set "a dangerous precedent" of oversized houses getting approved on the street. And they accused the Hanleys of refusing to talk over the past year with the 50 or so residents opposed to the proposal.
One resident objected to the Hanleys being described as nice, as if that were something special and somehow qualified them for variances.
"We are all nice, hardworking people and families," she said.
Board Chairwoman Christine Araujo conceded the point. "We are with you on nice," she said. "We assume everybody is nice. Our goal is not to analyze nice."
The resident then pressed on, however, arguing that the proposal had caused "a lot of tension in the neighborhood," and that she had heard it said the city somehow owes the Hanleys permission for the second house, something, she said, is "entirely exclusionary" and goes against "the diverse, all embracing and cosmopolitan city" that Boston is supposed to be.
The mayor's office and the office of City Councilor Matt O'Malley opposed the proposal because, they said, of the opposition from so many neighbors.
Araujo prefaced the board's vote by saying that over the years, she's learned that "hardest thing to build is a one family in a one-family neighborhood."
The board then voted 6-1 to approve the proposal. Member Joe Ruggiero voted against.