9-unit condo plan questioned

Jan Steenbrugge, owner of a lot at the corner of Parker and Alleghany Streets, is seeking 13 zoning code variances from the City zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to build a nine-unit condominium building.

The plan would separate a parking lot from 775 Parker Street and create a new address, 30 Alleghany Street, for the building. The variances that are sought are nonconforming use, off-street parking insufficient, dimensional regulations and forbidden use.

When the plan was presented during the Community Alliance of Mission Hill (CAMH) meeting May 16, it received a less-than-enthusiastic response from the audience. Some attendees questioned the variances, while others raised the issue of traffic and parking.

Kevin Joyce, an attorney representing Steenbrugge and former Inspectional Services Department commissioner, told the audience that variances are needed in any construction project. He said “nothing would be built” if variances weren’t allowed.

Kathryn Brookins, a Mission Hill resident, said she found Joyce’s theory of zoning laws “interesting” and summarized his position as “zoning laws are no longer applicable.”

Plans call for a three-bedroom unit to occupy the top floor, where Steenbrugge would live with his family. There would also be six two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units. A 13-car garage would be built underneath the building.

The garage drew a sharp response from the audience with some questioning the effect on traffic, while others noting that the building would displace an existing parking lot. The cars that currently park there would not have access to the garage.

According to a project description provided by the developer, the master deed would have restrictions that require at least 30 percent of the units in the new building be occupied by the owner occupants and that two of the proposed three trustees must be owner occupants.

Steenbrugge was born in Belgium before coming to Boston to study the violin when he was 17, according to a bio read by Joyce. After five years, he moved back to Europe to continue study and play the violin. But his life changed when his mother fell sick and he took her place as the manager of the family real estate firm. Steenbrugge now manages $25 million in real estate assets worldwide.

“I’m very personally involved,” Steenbrugge said about the project. “I look forward to making Mission Hill my home with my wife and children.”

Members of CAMH did not vote on the proposal, as there will be another presentation during a future meeting. The proposal goes to the ZBA sometime in August.

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