P&Z Watch: Parking Challenge for Downtown Multi Family Seeking to Add Bedroom

As downtown living becomes increasingly popular, and older homes are torn down and replaced with condos, Planning & Zoning is likewise seeing applicants who want to add residential space to existing homes or submitting applications under the state 8-30g affordable housing statute to redevelop smaller properties.

This week at the Planning and Zoning meeting, owners of a grandfathered 3 family home at 123 Havemeyer Place, in the R6 zone, came with a proposal to add living space.

The property features a two family home in the front, and a cottage with two garage bays  in the back yard. (Today new construction in the R6 zone is limited to two family homes.)

The applicants seek to create a second floor addition over one of the current garage bays, including a master bedroom, bath and closet space. On the first floor, they seek to convert the second garage bay into a living room with a gas fire place.

Though the family had mapped out 7 possible parking spaces, and has worked with an architect, P&Z told them they must hire an engineer and submit a site plan with a parking plan and setbacks.

“The problem is that the regulations have no distinction from yours and a big development. There is no distinction.” P&Z chair Margarita Alban said.

“You have to show your parking the moment you do multi family,” she added. “You don’t get a building permit until you have a site plan showing setbacks.”

The formula for parking is determined by the total number of bedrooms.

“Getting 7 cars on the property is not necessarily the problem,” said director of Planning & Zoning Katie DeLuca. “The commission is reacting this way because fitting 7 cars on the property is not the issue, it’s maneuvering them. …You need to make sure there is vehicular and pedestrian safety on the property….You have to show how the cars can turn around.”

Parking spaces must be 18 feet long and 9 ft wide. Tandem parking is allowed, but only on a per unit basis, and this property has three units.

The owners purchased the property on Aug 22, 2018 for $1,750,000.

“You have submitted a survey from 1980, by a local firm,” commissioner Nick Macri said. “I suggest you go back to them and update it with the parking. Check your green area as well.”

“Get the survey done and the process will go faster. I’m sorry you came here tonight,” Ms. Alban said.

The item was left open.