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Board rejects expansion of Savin Hill rental building that some neighbors said was already a 'a dormitory party house'

Zoning Board of Appeal members said today that they had nothing against the technical aspects of a landlord's plans to convert his two-family house with eight bedrooms into a three-family house with nine bedrooms, but rejected the proposal after neighbors objected to the sort of tenants now living there: Pot-smoking, beer-swilling, rowdy partiers they say spent much of the summer carousing late into the night.

"I can't see rewarding a landlord for that behavior," board member Mark Erlich said of the proposal for 17-19 Playstead Rd.

Building owner Thomas Magloczki's plans called for adding living space to what is now a duplex's basement and an additional front door to create three units - one with four bedrooms, one with three and one with two. His attorney, Nicholas Zozula, told the board the changes would be done within the building's existing footprint.

Board members, who have grown increasingly exasperated in recent months with what they consider inadequate proposals for basement bedrooms, said the plans themselves were fine.

The Columbia-Savin Civic Association voted to support the proposal. Zozula said the resident living right next to the house approved the proposal as well.

But the mayor's office and the offices of City Councilors Frank Baker and Michael Flaherty joined neighboring residents, such as Charles Monroe, who lives on the other side of the property, in opposing the plans.

Monroe told the board that he did oppose adding another bedroom to the building, but also the "operations" of the building as it is now. He said it had been rented out to nine young adults who held "incessant parties throughout the warm months," with tiki torches, open drinking and enough reefer smoking to leave other houses smelling like marijuana. And then there were the football matches that would extend from the porch to the yard. "It's basically a dormitory party house," he said.

"If the tenants are rowdy and not respectful of the neighborhood, then we do have an issue here," board Chairwoman Christine Araujo said.

The board voted to deny the proposal with prejudice, which means that Magloczki will have to wait at least a year to try again to win permission.




Not to mention that it is dangerously close to a floodplain. The neighboring property is in a FEMA floodplain and a good chunk of this property is in the base flood elevation for sea level rise published by the city. Any basement living space there is a bad idea.


Zoning Board of Appeals didn't seem to have any concerns about the floodplain. Just a neighbor who doesn't like the current tenants.

Maybe within that time he’ll get smart, evict the tenants that are a public nuisance and get some that will be good neighbors.
He should also make the property non smoking.
Better for his relationship with the neighborhood and better for his property too.


How is a landlord, on the basis of an incredibly limited interview at the time of rental, supposed to know if their tenants are going to be a "public nuisance" or not? Particularly when none of the activity that makes them a "public nuisance" appears to be actually illegal, or taking place on anyone else's property? Should there be some kind of "Puritans only, lest ye partake of the forbidden sins of drinking, playing football, and lighting tiki torches" clause in the lease?


How would a landlord's view of a potential "public nuisance" even square with fair housing laws? I could see "I thought they might be a public nuisance" being used to explain away clearly illegal behavior on the part of landlords.


I'm really not sure how you say "landlords should screen for public nuisances" without encouraging potential ageism, racism, classism, etc...


Renting family apartments to groups of singles creates these problems. When you share space with other students, you leave to study. When you have a studio, you study and work at home and leave to socialize. Obviously the pandemic has screwed this up, but it applies.

families make noise too, but most of them sleep at night.

First, how many families are out there who need 4 bedrooms worth of space and can afford to rent a 4-bedroom in this city?

Second, if the unit size is the issue, it seems like moving to smaller units would be an improvement here, but that's exactly what the neighbors and the ZBA aren't letting him do.

Third, as someone who lived for several years in the city with a bunch of roommates, I disagree entirely that groups of singles will automatically be loud and partying. It sounds a lot like ageism to me, where the assumption is that anyone who's young enough to not have a family yet but still needs a place to live must be a terrible neighbor by default.

Finally - again, how is this the landlord's fault? Should he have rejected every single applicant on the basis of their interpersonal relationships until the right group came along? Is this a requirement the ZBA expects every landlord in the city to abide by - and if so, shouldn't we be codifying it into law in that case?


I am frustrated with the zoning board as well.

Nothing is automatic, it is just more likely. Young people that like to party want to rent places together. I had roommates until i could afford to have my own place.

you ask the penultimate landlord of each tenant, not the current one as they may be such a pain the butt that current wants them gone, will tell you anything. The only way you can turn down a tenant is whether they are a bad business risk--someone who is this rowdy is such a risk IMHO as a landlord.

My experience living in Dorchester is something like this --

Developer buys a 3 decker that previously had 3 or 4 long-time residents (working families or older people) living in it for decades.

Then they gut it and turn each floor into a 3-4 bedroom unit and rent to 20-somethings for a ridiculous price that is really only "affordable" to 4 people splitting the rent (which is likely paid for by their parents).

Viola!! - suddenly I am living next to Animal House - filled with 10-12 young kids who think life is a party and throw beer cans off their deck and blast music at 3am with their windows wide open.

There are several illegal basement apartments near my home in Fields Corner. There are 3 specifically that have repeatedly been brought to the attention of ISD and .......crickets. There are some complaints that today are still listed as "open" 311 reports after several years. Several neighbors have called, written emails and letters, called ISD, and filed 311 complaints, and .....crickets.

The owners of these houses did not apply for permits, no variances were issues, no action was taken by the city despite many complaints. Why even bother.

One neighbor complained directly to Marty himself at a fund raiser , and ......crickets.

If I was the owner of this property on Playstead, I might just build a basement apartment anyway. Screw the city if they wont enforce their own laws and regulations.


Are the residents breaking the law? If so, then the neighbors should contact law enforcement, and maybe the landlord can evict them if the lease allows for that eventuality.

If not, I don't see how it's the landlord's responsibility if their tenants do things that aren't illegal but the neighbors find annoying (especially when those things are activities like "playing football in their own yard"). Is the landlord supposed to be on-site full-time and constantly policing their tenants behavior? Is there any evidence that anyone ever complained to the actual tenants or the landlord prior to this and they refused to do anything, or anything else that would show the landlord as somehow being negligent here?


For the record we went through a permitting campaign that included 6 community meetings. At the end of the day the planning committee and the CSHCA voted to approve our project. We always screen our tenants and in the case of Playstead Road screened them with great vigilance. The fundamental challenge is that 17-19 Playstead Road is a large historic building on a double sized lot and the as-of-right zoning allows only 2 units which results in (2) large 4 bedroom units. We presented 3 versions of a development plan, one of which was a (4) dwelling scheme, each unit was 2 bedrooms. While Chuck, the abutter who opposed the project today, stated he would not support a project with more bedrooms, this version of the project had the same bedroom count as currently exists (8). Chuck also opposed that and every other version of the project. He would oppose any version of the project irrespective of the rationale. Chuck is the only neighborhood resident who has claimed the 17 Playstead tenants to have been a nuisance, while the abutter on the opposite side of the building stated there have been no problems. Chuck not once called, emailed nor text to inform me of any issues at the property while he has my personal cell phone from the outset.

Nevertheless, all stakeholders (landlord and neighborhood residents) are stuck with exactly what they don’t want, 2 large bedroom count units that will attract unrelated tenants, not small/ young families. Chuck’s misrepresentation was enough to sway the perspective of the board. May karma prevail.


You came to Boston to go to school, and now you have been taken to school. The people living in what's left of our middle class neighborhoods have just had it with carpetbagging speculators. Maybe you feel that you were treated harshly, but one abutter does not single-handedly produce the result at the ZBA in this case.


The agency doesn't seem to have any other real evidence to point to that there's an issue here. I'm no fan of landlords or developers, but seriously, can't we ask that we at least criticize them for the things that they have actual control over?

It's called cronyism. A long. proud tradition in Boston.

Who would want to raise a family in a basement? And I know plenty of families who would love a fourth bedroom for an office/play room/spare bedroom/guest room/etc. A basement unit would be more likely to attract young partiers, in my opinion.

The developers will get a new consultant aka bagman to figure out a price tag that is agreeable to the local politicians and the ZBA and then the expansion will proceed as planned.

Zoning should focus on the long-term physical character of the buildings, not the behavior of the current tenants.

What do the neighbors expect to accomplish? If the landlord doesn't get to change anything, he could just keep renting to the current tenants.