There is another story here.

In October, the owners of the Tremont Street properties were brought before the Boston Landmarks Commission for violations. Specifically, the problem was that they had constructed an exterior heating vent on one of the buildings, the one at 655-659 Tremont Street. The owners said they had to put the vent up in order to provide the building’s tenants with heat and hot water. An abutter had complained, pointing out (correctly) that local regulations forbid exterior heating vents. The commission agreed, saying that the owners would have to replace the vent with one on the inside. The owners said they wouldn’t be able to do the necessary repairs until the spring, once the weather warmed up. The commission said, okay, makes sense, we’ll give you a six month reprieve.

Well, guess what? It appears, to me at least, that the owners being forthcoming with their plans. They didn’t want to delay repairs because they needed to provide heat and hot water to their tenants; they wanted to delay repairs because they were selling the buildings and didn’t want to spend any of their own money before they sold.

I criticized the commission’s members at the October meeting for giving the owners six months to make repairs; I told them that the commission’s responsibility was simply to decide what was and what was not a violation of landmarks regulations; anything beyond that, such as giving timeframes for repairs, etc., was beyond their jurisdiction.

The exterior vent was obviously a violation. All the landmarks commission members should have done was voted to require the owners to make the repairs. Granting the owners an extension was beyond their responsibilities. They should have taken the vote and left it to the owners to decide when to make the repairs.

In my opinion, the commission made a mistake.

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