OHNC Members Votes Down One Project, Hear Info on Two other Projects

Members of the Orient Heights Neighborhood Council (OHNC) voted against one development project at the group’s January meeting last week and heard informational presentations on two other development projects. 

OHNC members voted 39 to 1 in opposition to the proposal at 1209 Bennington Street. Ricky and Josh Crespo have proposed to raze the existing building and erect a four-story, seven-unit residential dwelling with five off-street parking spaces. 

Architect from Joy St. Design, Trea LaRaia, said the Crespos have worked with her firm to create a spacious floor plan for families with a mix of two and three-bedroom units. The top unit will be a 1,600 square foot three bedroom unit. 

There’s been some criticism over the years from OHNC members to developers that there hasn’t been enough emphasis on larger, family-size units. Most condo developments being constructed up the Heights usually consist of studio, one or two-bedroom units and residents complain those smaller units do not attract families to the neighborhood. LaRaia said the design at 1209 Bernnington attempts to address those concerns. 

At the meeting OHNC members said some abutters had questions about setbacks and direct abutters had questions of the proposed fence, shadows and the proposed removal of a large tree on the property. 

There were also some concerns over the height and density of the proposal and suggested knocking an entire floor off the proposal while others suggested just reducing the total number of units. 

For the second project, residents heard an informational presentation for the proposed project at 6-8 St. Andrew Rd. 

Owner Fouad Hamzeh told OHNC members that he wants to renovate the existing rear deck. His attorney, Jeff Drago said the scope of the project includes extending the deck to the upper floor, addition of an egress staircase, and the extension of the first floor portion of the deck. The renovation of the rear basement access stair/door is also included in the proposal. 

Drago said he and his client held an abutters meeting in early January and got overwhelming support from neighbors. Most agreed that Hamzeh is a ‘great’ neighbor and wished to support his proposal. 

Finally, OHNC members heard information on the proposed project at 90 Ashley Street. Owner Robert DeLeo wants to erect a two-family dwelling on a vacant lot. 

The proposed two-family will be constructed as a duplex with two-bedroom, two-bathroom units in each. The proposal also includes two off-street parking spaces 

DeLeo is looking for a variance for the side yard. Zoning code requires a seven foot distance for the side yard but the proposal only has a five foot Buffer. However, DeLeo’s attorney, Derek Smalls, said the neighbor next door has a driveway that abuts the side yard–so the distance between the buildings would be 15 ft. even though the setback to the property line is currently proposed at five feet. 

The next OHNC meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021.

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