Unpopular Design Proposal in SM Denied

After the third time the Design Review Committee formally held a hearing for a new home proposal at 1541 Euston Road, it ultimately voted to deny the project instead of continuing the hearing once again.
The DRC, which voted 3-2 to deny the project at its May 17 meeting, had previously allowed its applicants the opportunity to make changes, but shut the door that night largely on the basis that substantial changes had not been made. The two-story Cape Cod-style proposal was, in the eyes of committee members and many neighbors, too large for the neighborhood.
“I don’t really see an effort to reduce the massing,” said committee member John Dustin, pointing out the various aesthetic changes since the first hearing in March.
The square footage of the home falls just under the maximum allowed, and on one of the smallest lots in the neighborhood. Its applicants have argued the home as being “1½” stories because it doesn’t have a full second floor. The architect had previously tried lowering the home’s height by altering the roof’s pitch, but Dustin had opined last month that that detracted from the Cape Cod style.
Alternate committee member Judy Johnson-Brody, who admitted she would likely be the “lone wolf” in supporting the project, dispelled claims from various neighbors that the home had exceeded size and placement restrictions and said much of the reason she supported the home because its style fit the neighborhood and met all numerical requirements.
“If you believe everything you heard tonight, please go back and read [the design guidelines],” she said. “I think the house is an improvement to what is currently there. Having a large roof versus a two-story house is very different to me.”
One of the homeowners, Carol Huang, had pleaded for the DRC to approve the project, which was being planned with her growing family in mind. She countered allegations of privacy concerns among neighbors by pointing out the lack of privacy she currently experiences in her back yard. Notably, the city has always found that the proposal was devoid of privacy concerns.
Huang also alleged there were “ulterior motives” for her neighbors to strongly oppose the proposal and had submitted documentation to the city for it. However, she did not specifically explain her claim at the meeting.
Ultimately, Johnson-Brody and committee member Kevin Cheng voted against denying the project, although Cheng had previously expressed concern with the size of the project.
The DRC also continued the hearing for an expansive home proposal at 1221 Roanoke Road, which had attracted a whopping 17 letters of opposition from members of the community.
The home, a seven-bedroom English Tudor style structure, would have been continued anyway, because the applicants failed to install story poles 10 days before the meeting, but the DRC allowed the hearing to begin so the applicants could make changes as requested.
Those 17 letters were unanimous: the house was just too “grandiose and ostentatious,” as one letter read, and also “overwhelming” as written in another. One letter ended with “STOP THE MADNESS” and another called the proposed construction materials “Home Depot-ish.”
Dustin highlighted the fact that the home sits at a corner of Roanoke Road and Old Mill Road, which creates a uniquely wide intersection (such that it was recently determined the intersection needed no stop signs).
“You can see this house a half-mile away from anywhere down the streets,” Dustin said.
Johnson-Brody said she wasn’t concerned so much with the amount of square footage and more so with “how it is presented” and said the home had a “Disneyland-esque” appearance. Committee Vice Chairman William Dietrick said he was welcoming of the style, but would want it toned down.
“We have to cut down on the massive effect,” he said. “I think when you install the story poles, it’s really going show how big it is.”
The next hearing for this home, which architect Philip Chan confirmed was speculative and did not have a current owner, is July 19.
In other business:
• The hearing for a proposed two-story home with a detached two-car garage at 2735 Canterbury Road was continued after the committee determined, among other things, that the proposal was too large for the neighborhood and did not have a consistent architectural style.
• The DRC also continued the hearing for proposed exterior modifications and an expansion to the three-car garage at 1351 Bedford Road until the July 5 meeting.
• The hearing for a proposed second-floor addition, new two-car garage, new covered patio and first-floor remodel was continued by request of the applicant.

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