The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected plans for a row of five condo townhomes in Allston that would face an elongated driveway rather than the street.
Still, the board rejected the proposal for 108 Allston St., across from the West End House, without prejudice, which means Brian McGrath can come back with revised plans as soon as he readies them rather than waiting at least a year.
"Any time we see one of these projects that's perpendicular to the streetscape, that's a problem that has to be solved," board Chairman Mark Erlich told McGrath and his architect, Choo & Co.'s Elida Alba. Still, he added, "you're not that far off from having a good proposal, but there's still some work to do."
Among the reasons McGrath needed zoning-board approval is because Allston's zoning requires the main entrance to a residence to face the street, rather than a driveway.
Board member Hansy Better Barraza suggested McGrath could solve the issues by eliminating one of the five units, which she said would allow for more work to better integrate the building with its neighbors, which do not consist of what is basically a sidewall facing the street.
However, just two doors down is an even larger building with the same sort of driveway-facing layout.
The three-story proposal called for seven parking spaces - a single-car garage for each unit and two spaces for visitors.
McGrath had originally proposed six units. Allston Civic Association President Tony D'Isidoro said the five-unit proposal was welcome, although he said he was surprised to learn of it only this morning.
D'Isidoro added that he hopes McGrath will actually sell the units as condos and not try to hold onto them and rent them as apartments. The ACA generally favors condos over apartments, because homeowners have more of a stake in the already apartment-heavy neighborhood.
In addition to the location of the main entrances, the proposal needed zoning-board "relief" because the lot is zoned for a two-family home with no more than 2 1/2 floors. Also, the front, rear and side-yard setbacks were shorter than allowed.