Frank and Kathy Brown have lived for 27 years on S. Gum Street, surrounded by majestic old trees and historic houses.
But the new view from their back yard — a two-story, 35-foot-tall, 3,057-square-foot add-on to the Dorchester Children’s Center that looms over their property — has them crying foul.
They say that if the town would allow such an out-of-proportion addition in their area, then anyone in the historic district could find themselves living next to a behemoth.
During June 11’s Town Council meeting, Kathy Brown took the podium during public comments to express frustration she had with the add-on project the building is currently undergoing.
The back of her property adjoins the side of the Dorchester Children’s Center property, which faces East Richardson Avenue.
Brown had with her an iPad, on which she had a picture of what she now sees directly behind her backyard: the constructed add-on project, just on the other side of her fence.
Brown said she had called Mayor Bill Collins recently with the suggestion that the Center should add some shrubbery to their property in order to mask the construction.
Brown added that although she is the only neighbor really affected by the construction, the neighbors in the surrounding area had not been notified about any new construction – and Brown feels they should have.
“To me, if anyone should have gotten something, it should have been me,” she said. “We should’ve had some say in the matter.”
However, Kay Phillips, executive director of the Dorchester Children’s Center, said the organization went through the appropriate permitting rules for starting the project; they applied for building permits last year and made a post indicating they were applying for said permits.
Also, Phillips said, the organization is willing to comply with Brown’s request to do some landscaping.
“We agreed to whatever she wanted because we want to be good neighbors,” Phillips said. “We don’t want our neighbors upset with us. We’ll definitely do what Ms. Brown asked for.”
Madelyn Robinson, director of planning and economic development for the town, said properties and buildings can expand as long as they get approval.
“All properties/buildings in Town are permitted to grow based on Town, state and/or federal approval of which various ordinances, regulations and procedures are followed,” Robinson wrote in an e-mail.
Phillips said the new add-on will serve as office space geared toward providing resources and therapy for children.
“It’s a very positive thing,” she said. “We’re helping a lot of kids. We saw about 1,000 kids last year and we’ll see more than 1,000 this year.”
The Browns said they have no problem with the mission of Dorchester Children’s Center; it’s a good organization, they said.
They’re just frustrated with the construction.
Phillips said the add-on is a $1.3 million project. Construction started in January and they hope to have it finished by the end of the year.
“It’s just to give us more space,” she said, adding construction is moving along on schedule. “Everything is going good.”