by Kevin Dicciani
Members of the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Development Review Committee voted at their June meeting to reject a driveway variance while offering to support a variance for a garage addition.
Jonathan and Lindsay Berardino, of 210 E. Evergreen Ave., presented to the DRC for a second time their application for a driveway variance for single-car parking in the front yard setback. They were previously told by the DRC that the driveway was more like a “parking pad,” and that their car would have to clear the front of the house and run along the side, with its bumper not inching past the facade into the front lawn.
Jonathan Berardino said he has received multiple signatures from nearby neighbors who support the driveway, although at the last Land Use Planning and Zoning committee meeting there were others who objected to the plan.
The LUPZ committee asked the Berardinos if it would be at all possible to construct the driveway in such a way that it connects with their neighbor’s, allowing them to share a driveway. Mr. Berardino said that clearing room alongside of the house towards the back, where there is no garage, was not in his plans.
John Haak, a member of the DRC and co-chair of the LUPZ, said both of the committee’s views are that a parking pad in the front yard would “intrude in an area that they would like to preserve as more pedestrian friendly.”
Echoing this same sentiment was committee member Patricia Cove, vice president of preservation at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society. Cove said the CHHS was primarily concerned with the open and green space along Evergreen Ave., and are not in favor of installing a parking pad on essentially the front lawn. She said the CHHS discussed with the Berardinos the idea of laying down two rows of Belgian block, but Mr. Berardino said he found that to be more unsightly than the parking pad itself, which was to be fitted with specialized stone.
Committee member John Romano said that supporting this variance could set a precedent that could alter the landscape of Chestnut Hill.
“You can imagine what would happen to the neighborhood if this was allowed,” Romano said. “It would completely change the character over time if driveways started appearing in all the yards. We would lose something really essential.”
A motion was made to not support the driveway variance. It passed with a unanimous 4-0 vote.
The second variance concerned a garage addition variance at 8109 St. Martins Lane.
The proposal is to reconfigure the five-car garage at the back of the property, which is owned by John and Christine McDonald. The second floor of the garage is to be fitted with sleeping quarters, and an exercise pavilion will be added next to the garage, leaving some remaining inside space to be used for storage.
The five-car garage is to be reduced to three parking spaces. The addition of the exercise pavilion will not impact street parking, and its construction will not affect any of the surrounding trees. As the rear of the property faces the train-tracks, nearby neighbors will not be burdened with the sight of the structure, which cannot even be seen on the street. The McDonalds have received written support from five surrounding neighbors.
A motion to support the variance was passed with a 2-0 vote, with one abstention.