Chris and Lauren Mongeon are one step closer to constructing a two-story structure on their Dignowity Hill lot after the Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) gave their proposal conceptual approval Wednesday. The structure would include a two-car garage and three small apartment units.

For the couple, the decision Wednesday has been many months and many meetings in the making.

But the approval did not pass quickly. Staff initially recommended that commissioners not approve the project because the new structure would be disproportionately larger than the historic home on the lot.

“Honestly, I was expecting it to be recommendation for approval,” Chris Mongeon said. “With a proposal that is actually greater than the maximum recommended footprint it’s perfectly understandable that it was a recommendation against.”

But commissioners ultimately approved the project after hearing both public input and the Mongeons’ presentation outlining more development details.

Six neighbors voiced their support for the structure itself, the positive impacts the project would bring to the neighborhood, and that what is currently a large concrete slab would be landscaped as a backyard. The property was once used for automobile work.

The Mongeons’ presentation showed commissioners similar structures that already exist in the neighborhood, as well as detailed renderings that depict how the addition would look from surrounding streets.

Unlike previous contests to the development, during which some residents voiced concerns over the Mongeons’ potential plans to use the addition as short-term rentals, commissioners on Wednesday argued that the structure did not comply with several design requirements established for buildings in the historic district.

Commissioners approved the proposal with the recommendations that wood or aluminum-clad wood windows be installed, that the proposed standing seam metal roof fit specific spacing requirements, that mechanic equipment be screened from the view of the public right of way, and that additional landscaping be added to reduce storm water runoff.

Proposal for a garage and apartment structure at 1115 Nolan St.
This rendering was part of the proposal packet the Mongeon’s submitted to HDRC for a garage and apartment structure at 1115 Nolan St. Credit: Courtesy / Laura and Chris Mongeon

The couple finished renovating their historic home at 115 Nolan St. this year and have been planning on building the accessory structure for months. In September, they were granted a conditional use zoning change from City Council, allowing  them to build the proposed structure on their lot. The Mongeons will return to HDRC for final approval once they’ve created their 80% construction documents.

“It’s really nice to be this close to success in what we set out with back in February,” Chris Mongeon said.

Commissioners also gave conceptual approval for a six-story office structure to be built at 711 Broadway St. The development will feature ground-floor retail space and subgrade parking. The proposal passed without commissioner discussion or public input.

Jeffrey Sullivan is a Rivard Report reporter. He graduated from Trinity University with a degree in Political Science.