We are writing as a concerned and outraged neighborhood about an egregious construction situation at 73/75 Morse St. If this is allowed to be completed, it will set a precedent that could be repeated throughout Watertown. If stopped, it would set a precedent that this kind of thing isn’t allowed or tolerated in this town.
The new owner-builder of this property has permission from the town to re-construct the two houses and garage that were there. This did not trigger any notification from the zoning inspector/department to neighbors, or a hearing, even though the plans specified some shocking changes.
Two weeks ago, suddenly an entire second floor plus a pitched roof went up on the so-called garage replacement that spans the backs of two entire properties on Capitol Street (#70 and #74). The “garage” is now an enormous monstrosity, larger than most houses. Because it’s a garage and not a house, it was legal for this to be built just 5 feet from these 2 property lines, but it is absolutely illegal to have a second story on a garage.
Somehow Watertown’s Department of Community Development & Planning approved these plans. They say the developer is building pull-down stairs instead of regular stairs so it qualifies as one story! There are also now four windows with bays that face Morse Street on this obvious second story, although the builder claims the space will only be used for storage. He’s laid foundation for a home office and bathroom in one end of the “garage”, so there will now be heating and plumbing as well. The home office in a garage is legal; the second story and mammoth size of the entire structure is not.
The two properties at 70 and 74 Capitol St now have no sun in their yards, little view of sky, a huge wall that is claustrophobic even from windows of their homes and feels prison-like in their own backyards.
Older houses are being demolished with larger ones replacing them all over Watertown. This specific situation is particularly egregious because of the enormity of this “garage” building, but there have been many cases where the “feel” of neighborhoods has changed, and there are apparently ways that builders can even skirt around the building and zoning ordinance intentions. Can we allow gigantic structures like this to loom over our yards? Is there any protection for longtime tax-paying citizens’ properties?
Joanne Hammil, 70 Capitol St.
Judy and Ralph Antonucci, 74 Capitol St.
Diana Najarian and John Philley, 76 Capitol St.
Jim and Ellen Ridge, 88 Union St.
Jonathan Rosenthal, 67 Capitol St.
Bruce Zamost and Michele Lorilla, 79 Morse St.
Sarah Sirin and Izzet Yildiz, 81 Morse St.