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Proposed three-unit house in Mattapan with a formal man cave is rejected

Proposed man cave

Plans showing the proposed man cave.

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to expand a two-family house at 739 Cummins Highway into a three-family house because the submitted plans were missing adequate details about such things as doors.

The board denied the proposal without prejudice, which means owner Broderick Egodogbare can come back with revised plans within a year.

Unusual for proposals before the board, the plans that were submitted showed a basement room designated as "man cave," next to a game room and a rec room.

The man-cave - the details of which were not discussed at the hearing - did not figure in the board's decision. However, neighbors objected to the proposal in part because they said Edgodogbare told them that the basement was going to be set aside just for "mechanicals" and not for any sort of living space.

The BPDA also formally opposed the proposal, saying a rear addition planned to allow enough space for three units was too large for the lot.

The mayor's office supported the proposal.

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"We don't want to be jealous of you so you can't do a thing which doesn't affect us in the slightest!"

He could resubmit the plans without the basement rooms and later get a separate permit to finish the basement which wouldn't need the ZBA approval.

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Voting closed 30

"We want you to follow the same rules that the rest of us follow."

"As long as we're paying for the fire department, you gotta build your house to the fire code we all agreed to."

Also, changes to FAR are changes to density. Changes to density affect the neighbors.

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Voting closed 38

If you want the basement built to fire code, you want it to come through the permit process. The alternative is that he sneaks building materials in later and builds it himself, to hell with electrical code, fire code, gas code, etc.

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Obviously the building and fire code violations would need to be fixed. But that's a separate issue. The building department won't give you a permit if the plans aren't up to code and they won't sign off on permits if there are violations.

Density isn't a safety matter if the building is up to code.

From a safety perspective it's preferable for the building to be inspected and built to code now instead of him leaving it as "mechanicals only" and finishing the basement without a permit and code inspections.

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Voting closed 18

I can see how increasing density affects the neighbors, but I fail to see how decreasing density like this affects anyone.

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By one common measure of density, square feet of habitable space per square feet of lot size, finishing a basement is no different from adding a story to the building, in that both of them add habitable space.

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I mean, by habitable space per people living in the space, adding a finished basement that isn't a separate apartment should obviously reduce density. Seems ridiculous to base it on lot size, rather than the actual separation of units on that lot size - otherwise you'd have to argue that a 2500-foot studio is denser than a 2000-foot 3-bedroom house.

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Voting closed 9

Bob did say it was ONE measure of density, not the sole measure of density.

You seem to be thinking of a measure of density of residents per lot size, whereas Bob's calculation is habitable space per lot size. Both are a measure of some sort of density. The trouble with the population density is that it assumes a certain number of people are going to consistently live there even though it is a variable that can readily change, while habitable square footage is not going to change without a future construction project.

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Density, as it matters to the neighborhood, is all about residents per sq ft of lot, or residents per linear foot of street... not about residents per sq foot of house. Adding habitable space to a building, in general, increases density, in the sense that, on average, a 3000 sq ft house is going to have a bigger impact on the neighborhood than a 2000 sq ft house is a vis noise, traffic, amount of trash generated, parking congestion, etc.

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Voting closed 12

What matters to ME is how tall a building is, how blank the walls are, and how many off-street parking spaces there are (since they encourage car use and displace living space for people).

If someone wants to make more space for people without increasing the envelope of the building, I say GREAT!

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Minimum lot size per dwelling unit is another (annoying) restriction in zoning codes.

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How many of the existing houses meet the FAR and setback limits? In most urban areas around here, it's almost zero.

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Zoning recognizes an attempt at an illegal basement apartment when they see one

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because the submitted plans were missing adequate details about such things as doors.

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Saw the "news" story on "NBC 10" last week about the condo in JP built/ listed/ shown with a wall-less (open floorplan?) bathroom

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Seriously, man cave and game room? You mean two extra bedrooms. Maybe the neighbors don't need 20 people crammed in one house right next door.

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neighbors objected to the proposal in part because they said Edgodogbare told them that the basement was going to be set aside just for "mechanicals"

How dare you want watch movies or shoot pool in the basement of your own home instead of an upper floor.

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Voting closed 27

My basement has the furnace, hot water tank, washer and dryer, and fuse box, in addition to having a long unused stationary bike, 4 actual bikes (1 of which actually gets used), the Christmas Tree and assorted decorations, and assorted junk that should probably get thrown out yet hasn't been. How is that better than a basement with various rooms for activities? There's no toilet or kitchen facilities, so it definitely isn't a way to sneak another apartment in.

EDIT- missed the half bath. Still, no kitchen facilities.

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Why should the government decide how many kitchens I'm allowed to have anyways? I am a fan of the 2nd kitchen, usually furnished with whichever appliances used to be in the main kitchen.

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As a taxpayer I care what’s inside the envelope of your house because I pay for the fire department. As a neighbor I care about the configuration because an apartment building has a different impact on the neighbors than a single family home does. As a citizen I care about honesty in building permit applications because you can’t make good policy without good data.

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Your position assumes that this new construction would not be to code? And that I am a liar? And that I'm not perfectly capable of setting my house on fire with just one kitchen?

I remain unconvinced.

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That typically one finds a single kitchen per dwelling unit. If this floor had a kitchen unit, it would have been a sure sign that it was meant to be a contained unit.

Of course, having what looks like 2 family spaces in the basement has me wondering what the rest of the proposed building looks like. Two households have cool cellar spaces, but what about the third?

And to be clear, I have absolutely no opinion on whether or not this should have been approved. Not a neighbor, so not my issue.

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Voting closed 11

But this is a rental unit. If say you have 3 units in a building and one unit has two kitchens--looks like maybe you really have 4 units there. If you have a "man cave" and a "rec room" in the basement of a 2-3 bedroom unit, you're probably going to market it as a 4 to 5 bedroom unit.

His neighbors are rightly concerned. If he needed variances to change a two-family to a 3 (possible FAR issues, outside space, setbacks, whatever) to get this built and he promised he wasn't going to pack the basement with tenants then his rec room and man cave aren't fooling anyone.

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Voting closed 17

I don't know about you, but I'm not likely to live in a "man cave" that doesn't have its own kitchen. And I'd bet most people who are would probably be ok living in an unfinished basement that has its own bathroom - so stopping him from finishing it doesn't seem to accomplish much here.

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This is how antiquated & specific our building laws are. Its all about the stove, the closet, and the bathtub.

Do you know what makes a kitchen.. a kitchen (by law)? A stove, specifically an oven. When you have a room that has a stove with an oven.. it's by law a "kitchen". It doesn't need a sink or a fridge. As long as the room has a stove, its a kitchen. You can have 600 fridges and 400 cook tops in a room, and it's not a kitchen. But add one wall oven, and it's a kitchen. (this is how offices can have their near-full kitchen but yet skirt this law a bit.. cooktop only!)

Same with a bathroom. If it has a toilet, it's a bathroom. You can have a shower stall and a sink, but it doesn't make it a bathroom without a toilet.

Same with a bedroom. A bedroom is not a bedroom, if it does not have a closet. (legally). However, it doesn't have to be a in-wall closet, it can be a free standing one, like a wardrobe (as long as it is left behind).

A room without a closet cannot be defined as a bedroom. And a closet is defined as a place to hang clothing that has **doors**. (the key is a closet has to have door). And it can be a wardrobe that is not removed.

This is why you see many "Dens" or "Offices". Rooms that look like a bedroom (or could be) but lack a closet. (or lack egress.. most bedrooms have to at least 2 egress points to be used as a bedroom).

Or rental units that have look like they were a 2 bedroom, but are a four bedroom, because each room has a closet or a wardrobe. (who needs a dining or living room anyways..)

How do I know all of this.. I know a few home inspectors & far too many real estate brokers who love to tell me stuff they've seen. Also lived in an illegal apt during a home sale and magically my stove in my unit was moved out for home inspection day and replaced with a table with my microwave on it.

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As far as the basement mancave, he has a half bath & Washer and dryer hookups, which is fine. Not sure where y'all think he has a kitchen. No stove.. not even a fridge (which doesn't qualify). Nor do I see any decent place to put one in the main area (W&D, stairwell area). No water connections, nor area big enough for one. Assuming they would want the big 3 kitchen (stove, fridge, sink).

Like someone said above, not sure why he even bothered with the walls & even noting it as living space on the plans, especially if he told his neighbors it was going to be for mechanical. Having the bath + WD in the basement isn't unusual nor does it signify this as a "living area". I would have left it as "storage" and finished it off later.

I did look at this place on Gmaps, and the lot is huge. Seems like they have a double look. It would,
however, look massive from the side. Also no word if this would replace the garage or not, too.

blah blah blah.. insomnia sucks.

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Thanks for putting your insomnia to good use and sharing this info. I didn't know the fine points about the oven that officially makes a room a kitchen and a closet that makes a room a bedroom. Hope you caught some sleep :)

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Basement set up as in the plans probably isn't going to be a whole extra illegal unit (which would require some kind of kitchenette) but a way to sneakily add extra bedrooms to the first floor unit. So he's saying he's going to have a 3 bed or whatever, but rent out to 5+ roommates.

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... how are they different, again?

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With both general recreation and the enjoyment of games being fulfilled by two adjoining rooms just what exactly is supposed to go down in the "man cave"? Whatever that would be I'm sure the world is better off without it.

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Did not know that Man caves were still a thing.

If you need a special room to prove that you are a "man" while you do "man type" things such as watching tv, playing games, and hiding from your family amid the glow of neon beer signs and bikini clad women and sports posters, then that is just plain pathetic.

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As someone currently house hunting, I for one can say my wife much prefers I have a space for my sports and pop culture memorabilia and artwork, guitars and amps, Xbox, etc. that isn't our living room or bedroom.

I'll give you that the term "Man Cave" is somewhat vomit-inducing, but there is nothing wrong with someone–man or woman–having some space for the things they enjoy.

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So long as the laundry room is also in that space.

Notice all the laundry detergent ads on sportsing events? Yeah.

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Same thing as a "man cave," really.

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