Today was a day of surprises at the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). When Jordan Most, attorney for the owners of 3329-3333 Giles Place got up to speak, he conceded several of the points made by the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association in our written statements – putting us that much closer to victory.
Before the BSA, Most conceded:
- That the front foundation wall encroaches on the city sidewalk, public property, and that this must be corrected.
- Although he initially suggested that the BSA not count the concrete that’s in the street, he had to agree to the Chair’s suggestion that they discount from “substantial construction” the entire front foundation wall, because it will have to be significantly redone.
- That the owner does, as FIPNA has argued, have to provide cancelled checks to prove the claimed expenses
- That the owner’s figure for the total construction costs was underestimated, and needs to be revised.
- That some of the concrete in the ground is not work that they did, but remaining pieces of the foundation of the house that formerly stood at 3333 Giles Place.
Each of these concessions weakens the owner’s argument that he should be granted common law vesting rights. We were flabbergasted – we had carefully prepared our testimony, and now the applicant was conceding things we had expected to have to convince the BSA of!
FIPNA was represented by six members: Teresa Grant Stoeth, Karen Argenti, Judy Baier, Margaret Groarke, Brian Aucoin, and Dart Westphal. Our argument centered on the following points:
- A zoning compliant building cannot be built on the existing partial foundation, because it is roughly 4 feet too far to the east, and encroaches on city property.
- The construction done – over 14 ½ days! – does not constitute substantial construction. The site was not excavated, the foundation does not go down far enough, and it is of such poor quality it is already cracking.
- Correcting the fact that the foundation is in the wrong place will require ripping it out and starting again
- The claimed expenses are undocumented, likely inaccurate, and are not sufficient to warrant vesting rights
- The developer built not a serious foundation for a 6-story building, but a pretend foundation to earn the right to develop the property as he wished.
The BSA closed the hearing. The applicant will submit another statement on July 5, FIPNA (and other opponents) may respond by July 19, the applicant can answer our response by August 2, and a decision will be announced on Tuesday, August 16.
We are very hopeful that we are on the road to victory in this case, which FIPNA has been fighting since 2004. We intend to work as hard on what we hope will be the last stage, as we have on the earlier ones, so that we may be successful in preventing the overdevelopment of this lot.