Neighborhood Meeting Minutes – January 28, 2009, 7:15 p.m. – Susan Bailis Center
About 16 people attended this snowy, wintery, wet-weather evening meeting, despite winter storm warnings, A second e-blast was sent just before the meeting to alert people that the meeting was still on. The meeting was held in the general lounge area, not the meeting room, so that chairs had to be set up as people arrived. The meeting room is no longer available, only the lounge.President Dan Munson introduced the Guest Speaker, Emily Wolf, Preservation Planner and representative from the Landmarks District Commission,
She mentioned key historical points in the Commission, whose formation in 1982 marked recognition of the importance of preserving and protecting the exterior façade—“whatever is visible from a public way”—of the 12 block Botolph area containing 216 properties. Because of the variety of 1881-1902 late Victorian and other-style buildings, the Commission works with resident representatives to the Commission in helping maintain the value of this architecturally complex district.
The Commission sets aside the 3rd Tuesday, 4 p.m., of each month for possible live, scheduled reviews of permit applications from our district. There are two basic types of approvals:
Residents are encouraged to call Landmarks with any simple questions, before costly planning, to see if their basic concept is valid. Should an application be incomplete or need additional explanation, it might be “denied without prejudice,” and invited to reapply.
Former Landmarks representatives Duane LeFevre and Lee Steele both observed how helpful Landmarks can be in providing resource ideas, such as, how to find ironmongers, research windows, etc. It is important to remember that, while we want our historic and “significant” district to remain true to its heritage, architecture is a living and evolving art, and modern materials and touches are occasionally valid on historic buildings. The St. Botolph Inn is a case in point.
Several residents inquired about the somewhat grey area of what is “visible from a public way” when referring to the current Corridor, which was not really, originally, a public way. It appears that it is now considered a public way, and Landmarks monitors architectural activities facing the corridor as if it is a street in our neighborhood. Those attending asked Ms. Wolf for clarification, which she said she would provide.
There was also discussion of enforcement. What if a project starts without a building permit, or in clear violation of such a permit, or in clear violation of building codes? Ms. Wolf said they do not have the staff to monitor the many neighborhoods and suggested the St. Botolph area be self monitoring and call or contact her office with any concerns: 617-635-2519, firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the close of the meeting, Lee Steele reported that, due to the economic slow down, some projects like the Neiman Marcus tower at Copley, might stall, or others, like the extensive Christian Science reflecting pool area, might be transformed, totally changed from its original purpose.
President Dan Munson closed the meeting by adding that it is his goal to get much of this kind of information on the website so we can all share information about our neighborhood.
The meeting adjourned at 9 pm.
Helen Powell, Clerk
Read our current and past meeting minutes here.