Newton Aldermen Debate Special Permit, Size of Proposed Nevada Street Home
The two-family dwelling would exceed the property's floor-area ratio limit, and several aldermen believe it is too big for the neighborhood.
For the second time this summer, the Newton Board of Aldermen delayed a decision on a home construction project after members shared concerns over the size of the proposed residence.
During last night's full Board of Aldermen meeting, the board discussed a special permit for a proposed two-family home at 258 Nevada St. The permit, which the board will reconsider on September 4, would allow the proposed residence to exceed the designated floor-area ratio (FAR) for the property.
"This is my neighborhood. It's a neighborhood in transition but the majority of the houses are not this big," said Ward 2 Alderman-at-Large Marcia Johnson. "The size of this building is mind boggling to me."
The FAR regulations, which control the ratio between a home’s floor space to its lot size, were adjusted and approved by the Board of Aldermen in February 2011. The restrictions aim to prevent construction of oversized homes (often called "McMansions").
Earlier this summer, the board debated a special permit for a proposed home on Norwood Avenue in Newton Centre that exceeded the lot's FAR. Many aldermen, including Land Use Committee Chair Ted Hess-Mahan, believed the home was too large for the neighborhood.
After delaying the vote, the board eventually approved the special permit on July 9 with a vote of 17-7.
According to Hess-Mahan, the project at 258 Nevada St. involves expanding an existing 19th century home to create a two-family dwelling.
The addition would mirror the current home, Hess-Mahan said, and would push the FAR from .31 to .57, where a FAR of .48 is what is allowed on the lot.
The site plan involves a several curb cuts to accommodate multiple driveways, including a couple of underground garages.
The Land Use Committee approved the special permit for the home on August 7 with a vote of 4-1. Ward 5 Alderman-at-Large Deb Crossley was the single dissenting vote.
Crossley, who continued her argument against the permit last night, noted that the special permit for the Nevada Street home is the largest FAR increase request the board has received since adjusting the limits last year.
The site design, Crossley argued, could be adjusted to better fit the lot and the neighborhood.
"This is going in the direction that is opposite from all other areas in the city," said Ward 5 Alderman-at-Large Deb Crossley. "I think it's possible to do better on this site."
Ward 2 Alderman-at-Large Susan Albright also disagreed with the permit. While the proposed home may be similar in size to others on the street, Albright noted that the Planning Department said those other large homes would likely exceed the new FAR requirements for their lots.
After a suggestion from Ward 1 Alderman-at-Large Jay Ciccone, the aldermen unanimously voted to postpone the item. The board will continue the discussion and vote on the permit at its next meeting on September 4.