At their last meeting the Zoning Board of Appeals asked the Design Review Commission to provide an advisory opinion on what could be done with 39 Murphy Lane.
The Design Review Commission reviewed the building at its April 6 meeting. The Commission members had visited the site.
They took their charge as finding some way that the building could be rebuilt to closely approximate the original barn. It was not their responsibility to consider the troubled history of the project.
Their initial concern was that the concrete slab the barn had originally sat on had been replaced by a full, raised basement, making the building higher than the original structure. This was discussed at length. Since the original structure was gone, there was controversy over what the original height of the entire building had been.
The DRC unanimously agreed that at a minimum, most of the foundation that is above the grade of Murphy Lane should be cut away to lower the height of the building. They discussed at some length the proper materials that could be used to try to approximate the original exterior surface of the structure. They noted that it would be important to restore at least the appearance of the original barn doors. They also discussed the type of roofing material that would be appropriate.
The engineer from American Engineering who had been hired by the owner Ms. D’Agostino to work on 39 Murphy Lane pointed out that the original design that had been accepted by the city included a car port that would radically affect the appearance of the building. The engineer also noted that by law the building would need significant windows to meet code which would also affect its appearance.
The DRC was going to make some general recommendations to the Zoning Board of Appeals about what would need to be done. As pointed out by a member of the audience, this still left much of the design of the appearance of the structure unresolved. It was noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals had requested the DRC’s advice because they did not feel qualified to get into the precise appearance of the structure. This left the question of who would oversee the re-design of 39 Murphy Lane up in the air.
Brad Birge, head of the city planning department, suggested that the DRC volunteer to provide oversight of the design to the ZBA.
This passed unanimously.
On the way out I overheard the owner of the property, Ms. D’Agostino, say to her engineer that she was going to put a for sale sign in front of the property. I took that more as a bitter commentary than as a real decision.