The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal for a single-family home on a vacant lot at 8 Libbey St., off Lagrange Street in West Roxbury - but approved one for Petrel Street in the neighborhood's bird-street area.
Dennis and Josephine Sullivan, who purchased the 4,450-square foot lot across from their Libbey Street home in 2016, had proposed building a roughly 2,600-square foot house on the property. The house needed zoning-board approval because it sits in a part of West Roxbury zoned for 6,000-square-foot lots and because even if the zoning allowed a house on the lot, it shouldn't be more than about 1,800 square feet.
The Sullivans' attorney, Kevin Cloutier of West Roxbury, said the couple wanted to build "a modest single family home" in character with the other houses on the street and that the Sullivans, who had lived on the street for more than 20 years, had cleaned up what had been a "densely overgrown" lot.
The mayor's office and City Councilors Matt O'Malley, Annissa Essaibi-George and Michael Flaherty supported the proposal.
One neighbor, a direct abutter, praised the proposed house, said it was very much like hers and that the proposal had her "total support."
Other neighbors, however, did not hold back in opposing the house. One resident called the proposed house "a McMansion" on "a tiny little lot," while another said the Sullivans had led past opposition to previous owners' attempts to build on the lot and a third, after discussing how many rooms and offspring the Sullivans have, questioned why they even needed another house.
Before calling for a vote, board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said that one thing her years on the board have taught her is that the hardest thing in Boston "is to build a one-family house" - especially in West Roxbury, where so much of the residential land is zoned for 6,000-square lots even though that means many existing lots that pre-date current zoning would be ineligible for construction.
Member Mark Erlich then moved to approve the proposal, subject to design review by the BPDA. But the motion died when none of the other four board members seconded him and the project was formally rejected. The Sullivans can try again in a year.
After that vote, the board then approved a single-family house proposed for a 5,400-square-foot lot at 2 Petrel St., off Maple Street and just down from Curlew and Eagle streets.
As with the Libbey Street proposal, the mayor's office and councilors O'Malley, Essaibi-George and Flaherty supported the proposal. Unlike with Libbey Street, however, nobody rose to oppose the proposal and the board voted to approve it unanimously.