By Michael Coughlin Jr.
A project that would change the use of the building at 41 Delle Avenue from a one-family to a three-family residence is facing some backlash due to a mistake that allowed work to be done on the property that should not have been allowed.
Pat Sweeney, an attorney representing the owner of 41 Delle Avenue, informed those in attendance at an abutters meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that some work had already been done at the property due to a mix-up.
“Initially, you may have seen some work go on there if you are a close abutter. ISD (the Inspectional Services Department) actually issued a permit at one point in time to the plumber and to an electrician for work on the quote one to three family house,” said Sweeney.
“That, quite frankly, was an error.” Sweeney explained that the property at 41 Delle Avenue was mistaken for a three-family home with an address that looked similar when written. When that mistake was realized, work stopped.
Upon the work stoppage, with Sweeney’s help, the homeowner filed with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to change the use from a one-family to a three-family dwelling.
Another interesting aspect of this ordeal is that in 2012 the previous owner wanted the property legalized as a one-family home, and the property has been taxed as a one-family home. However, Sweeney identified that the property was already classified as a three-family home previously, according to a permit ISD has dated all the way back to 1923.
Moreover, Sweeney mentioned that the new homeowner was under the impression that it was a three-family home when he purchased it.
Sweeney says of the potential work proposed, “It involves repair of the floors, the ceilings, the walls, you know, putting in new kitchen cabinets, redoing bathrooms, et cetera.”
Overall, the most prominent issue residents had was with the characterization of the work that is set to be done at the property. Several people seemed confused about how much work had already been done due to the work-permit mistake and the project’s actual scope.
“The way I understand is you’re representing this to be a single-family currently, that you would like to convert to a three-family – that entails a lot more than just some repair work. That’s what I am trying to understand, and I think other folks are trying to understand,” said Eric Alden.
“It sounds like it has already been converted to three units, but you’re representing that it’s a single-family.”
To clear up confusion, Sweeney explained that some work was already done at the property as if it was already a three-family home due to the address mix-up.
“Legally, it is a single – actually out there now, as I said, the plumbers just going to install the stuff because the rough plumbing was done – I don’t know when,” said Sweeney.
Another resident, Robert Francey, was very outspoken regarding the proposal, claiming that he never saw a building permit for the property until work was shut down.
“So there was a lot of work, as far as we know, going unpermitted, and that’s what caught our attention,” said Francey.
Francey also seemed to refuse to believe that the actual scope of the project would not be much larger than how it was characterized during the meeting, as he described the building as a “total rehab” and “gut job.”
“There’s no way it’s just a lick of paint, a lick of paint, and we’ll call it done. This has got to go through a much more in-depth process for this neighbor and for this community. It’s not just going to happen because you know well a few mistakes were made,” said Francey.
“That’s in my mind a load of crap.”
At the conclusion of the abutter’s meeting, Mission Hill’s Liaison Margaret Van Scoy made it clear, “This is not the end of the conversation by any means.”
As this process moves forward, the applicant will have to meet with the Community Alliance of Mission Hill at a future date in order to schedule a potential hearing with the ZBA.