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Armory Decision, October 31, 2011 Somerville, MA

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  • 1. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Safety Architectural Access Board One Ashburton Place, Room 1310 Boston, Massachusetts 02108-1618 Deval L. Patrick Governor Phone 617-727-0660 Thomas G. Gatzunis, P.E. Commissioner Timothy P. Murray Fax 617-727-0665 Thomas P. Hopkins www.mass.gov/dps Lieutenant Governor DirectorMary Elizabeth Heffernan Secretary DECISION OF THE ARCHITECTURAL ACCESS BOARD Date: November 15, 2011 Name of Property: The Armory Property Address: 191 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA Docket Number: V09-197 and C10-059 Date of Hearing: October 31, 2011 Enclosed please find a copy of the decision relative to the above mentioned matter. Sincerely: ARCHITECTURAL ACCESS BOARD By: __________________________________________________ Kate Sutton, Program Coordinator/Clerk for Proceedings cc: Local Building Inspector Local Commission on Disabilities Local Independent Living Center William Schaefer, William Schaefer and Associates Architects Complainant Page 1 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 2. COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTSSUFFOLK, ss ARCHITECTURAL ACCESS BOARD Docket No. C10-059 and V09-197____________________________________In re ) )The Armory )191 Highland Avenue )Somerville, MA )____________________________________ ) BOARD DECISION Introduction This matter originally came before the Architectural Access Board (“Board”) as a variance requestreceived by the Board on November 27, 2009, pursuant to 521 CMR 4.00, and submitted by Joseph Sater(“Petitioner”). The Petitioner requests that the Board grant a variance from 521 CMR 24.2.1, regarding the lack ofa compliant slope at the existing front entrance ramp; 521 CMR 24.4.1, regarding the lack of a level landing at thetop of the existing front entrance ramp; and 521 CMR 24.4.1, regarding the lack of compliant dimensions for alanding at the top of the existing front entrance ramp (no landing provided). Based on the previous decisions ofthe Board and an additional request for more time to comply with the requirements previously ordered, the Boardvoted to schedule a fine hearing regarding the final outstanding issue of the slope of the ramp at the building’smain entrance. In accordance with M.G.L. c. 30A, §§ 10 and 11; 801 CMR 1.02 et. seq.; and 521 CMR 4.00, the Boardconvened a hearing on October 31, 2011 where all interested parties were provided with an opportunity to testifyand present evidence to the Board. William Schaefer, Project Architect; Joseph Sater, Petitioner; Alan Carrier, Witness for the Petitioner; andBernard Shadrawy, Attorney for the Petitioner, all appeared on behalf of the Petitioner. Eileen Feldman,Complainant, appeared on her own behalf. John Kelly, Advocate, appeared on behalf of the Complainant. Allthose offering testimony were sworn in. Applicable Laws The Board’s jurisdiction is established pursuant to 521 CMR 3.3.2 which requires that,”[i]f the workperformed, including the exempted work, amounts to 30% or more of the full and fair cash value (see 521 CMR5.00) of the building the entire building is required to comply with 521 CMR….” 521 CMR 24.2.1 states that, “[t]he least possible slope should be used for any ramp. The maximum slopeof a ramp shall be 1:12 (8.3%). (There is no tolerance allowed on slope, Refer to 521 CMR 2.4.4d).” Page 2 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 3. Per the requirements of Section 25.2 of 521 CMR, “[t]he approach to an accessible entrance shall be apaved walk or ramp with a slip resistant surface, uninterrupted by steps. Entrance(s) shall have a level space onthe interior and exterior of the entrance doors complying with Fig. 25a and 25b.” ExhibitsExhibit 1: Board Packet, AAB1-70Exhibit 2: Diagrammatic plan of the ramp and its slopes, dated April 27, 2011Exhibit 3: Photograph of mock-up of raised sidewalk in front of the building, done within the last few weeksExhibit 4: Flyer for the November 2, 2011 MBTA Community Meeting to be held at the Somerville Armory Facts The Fine Hearing was held on October 31, 2011 and based on the credited testimony of the witness, and thedocuments submitted, the Board finds the following facts: 1) The property in question was bought at auction by the current owners and is a three-story building, plus a basement, with offices, an art gallery, café, studios/apartments, and a performance space. The building is a total of 39,040 square feet, with approximately 12,000 square feet at the basement, first and second floors, and 3,000 square feet at the third floor. (File). 2) The project in question was a $3,000,000.00 renovation to the historical structure, which included the installation of a fully compliant elevator and accessible toilet rooms. This work was done is September of 2004 and a Temporary Occupancy Permit was issued in October of 2008, with the building still operating under this temporary certificate. (File). 3) In accordance with M.G.L. c. 30A, §§ 10 and 11; 801 CMR 1.02 et. seq.; and 521 CMR 4.00, the Board convened a hearing on February 8, 2010 where all interested parties were provided with an opportunity to testify and present evidence to the Board. At said hearing, the Board voted as follows: ! GRANT the variance for 521 CMR 24.2.1, regarding the lack of a compliant ramp slope (9.8% provided, 8.3% required); 521 CMR 24.4.1, regarding the lack of a level landing at the top of the existing ramp; and 521 CMR 24.4.3, regarding the lack of a landing at the top of the existing ramp. The motion is based on the fact that the Petitioner had proven that the cost of compliance would be excessive without substantial benefit to persons with disabilities, and on the condition that an additional actuator is placed at the bottom of the ramp by April 1, 2010, with verification of compliance with the Board’s order to be submitted on or before said date. (File). 4) On March 18, 2010, the Board received a complaint, pursuant to 521 CMR 4.00, from Eileen Feldman, regarding reported violations of 521 CMR at The Armory, located at 191 Highland Avenue in Somerville. The Complainant reported violations of the following sections of 521 CMR: - 14.5.1 An assembly area shall have a permanently installed assistive listening system if: (a). the assembly area accommodates at least 50 persons, or (b). if it has an audio-amplification system, and fixed seating. - The Complainant reports that no assistive listening system is provided in the performance space, the mezzanine or the café. - 14.5.2 For other assembly areas, a permanently installed assistive listening system, or other supplementary wiring necessary to support a portable assistive listening system shall be provided. The minimum number of receivers to be provided shall be equal to 4% of the total number of seats, but not less than two receivers. - The Complainant reports that no assistive listening system is provided for a classroom and conference room. Page 3 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 4. - 23.3.1 Handicapped parking spaces are not the closest spaces in the lot to the accessible entrance. - The Complainant reports that the two (2) handicapped parking spaces that are provided are not the closest to the accessible entrance. - The Complainant reports that two (2) of the handicapped parking spaces are located along the side of the driveway and do not provide striped access aisles.- 23.4.7b Each space shall have a sign designating it "Van Accessible" as required by 521 CMR 23.6, Signage. - The Complainant reports that no “Van Accessible sign is provided.- 23.6.1 A sign shall be located at the head of each space and no more than ten feet away, and at accessible passenger loading zones and may also include wording identifying its use. - The Complainant reports that no above ground signage is provided.- 24.2.1 The least possible slope should be used for any ramp. The maximum slope of a ramp shall be 1:12 (8.3%). (There is no tolerance allowed on slope, Refer to 521 CMR 2.4.4d). - The Complainant reports that the ramp slope measures 9.8% at the foot of the ramp, 10.9% mid-ramp, 12.8% by the intercom, and 13.3% measured one (1) foot from the entrance door.- 25.2 The approach to an accessible entrance shall be a paved walk or ramp with a slip resistant surface, uninterrupted by steps. Entrance(s) shall have a level space on the interior and exterior of the entrance doors. - The Complainant reports that the Performance Space Entrance/Exit is not accessible.- 25.6 Any entrance/exit of a facility not accessible by persons in wheelchairs shall have a sign clearly indicating the location of the accessible entrance/exit. - The Complainant reports that no signage is provided at the inaccessible door (Performance Space Entrance/Exit) directing people to the accessible entrance.- 26.10.1 Thresholds shall not exceed ½ inch in height and shall be beveled on both sides with a slope no greater than one-in-two (1:2) (50%). - The Complainant reports that the threshold at the ramped entrance measures approximately one and three quarters (1 ¾) inches.- 26.10.2 Changes in floor finish materials shall have an edge strip or threshold that is beveled at a ratio of one-in-two (1:2) (50%). - The Complainant reports that the Outside/Inside finish strip measures 13.6%.- 27.4.1 Handrails Location: Stairways shall have continuous handrails at both sides of all stairs. The inside handrail on switchback or dogleg stairs shall always be continuous. - The Complainant reports that the stairs throughout the facility only provide a compliant rail on one side of the stairs. - The Complainant also reports that no handrail is provided at the stairs on either side of the foyer.- 28.1 In all multi-story buildings and facilities, each level including mezzanines, shall be served by a passenger elevator. If more than one elevator is provided, each passenger elevator shall comply with 521 CMR 28. Accessible elevators shall be on an accessible route and located within the space with which it is intended to serve. - The Complainant reports that a new staircase was constructed within the performance area and access by the elevator is located outside the performance area.- 28.3.2 Elevator Call Buttons; Such call buttons shall have visual signals to indicate when each call is registered and when each call is answered. - The Complainant reports that the elevator call buttons located on the first floor do not have a visual signal.- 28.5 Door Jamb Markings; Both jambs of all elevator hoistway entrances shall have raised and Braille floor designation jambs that are visible from within the car and the elevator lobby. - The Complainant reports that the elevator landing in the basement does not have Braille or raised signage. Page 4 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 5. - 29.2.3 Changes in level greater than ½ inch are not allowed unless a ramp, walkway, or means of vertical access complying with 521 CMR is provided. - The Complainant reports that the Manager’s Office, Suite 1-A located in the entrance foyer alcove on the right side is not reachable via an accessible route. - 39.3 Controls; Height; The highest operable part of controls, dispensers, receptacles, and other operable equipment shall be placed within at least one of the reach ranges specified in 521 CMR 6.5, Forward Reach and 521 CMR 6.6, Side Reach. - The Complainant reports that the Public Communications System at the entrance door has controls higher than fifty-four (54) inches. - 39.4 Controls Location: All such controls shall be located at least 18 inches from an interior corner. - The Complainant reports that the Public Communication System at the entrance door measures 16.25 inches from the corner. - 41.1.1 Signs that designate permanent rooms and spaces shall comply with 521 CMR 41.2, 41.5 and 41.6. These include toilet room signs, room numbers, stair signs, etc. - The Complainant reports that the signage for classrooms in the basement are all handwritten and that the men’s and women’s toilet rooms in the performance space do not have Braille. (File).5) The Petitioners were notified of the reported violations on April 23, 2010 via a “First Notice” and were also sent a “Notice of Hearing” for the May 24, 2010 hearing. A “Complaint Dismissal” was also sent to all parties concerned, dismissing the reported violations of the following sections of 521 CMR: 24.5.4, handrails extensions at the ramp are exempt due to their intersection with the sidewalk being a potential safety hazard; 26.6.1, which was previously granted a variance by the Board; and 28.9.1, the car position indicator is located in the appropriate location. (File).6) At the May 24, 2010 hearing, the Petitioners and the Complainant offered the following testimony: - An automatic door opener was installed at the middle and, based on the condition of the previously granted variance, at the bottom of the existing ramp as a means of alleviating the need for a level landing at the entrance door. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Schaefer). - The Petitioner had previously stated that the existing ramp has a slope of 9.8% over 20 feet of length, when 8.3% is required by 521 CMR 24.2.1. The Complainant contests that the slope of the ramp is 9.8% at the foot of the ramp, 10.9% mid-ramp, 12.8% by the intercom, and 13.3% measured one foot from the entrance door. (Exhibit 1). - The Petitioner seeks to maintain the existing ramp design to preserve the overall look of building entrance, which resembles a drawbridge across a moat and into the castle, which is considered an “integral element of its original design”, as noted in the Letter from the Somerville Historic Preservation Commission. The Petitioner noted that although the entrance was constructed originally to resemble a drawbridge over a moat, there is no water feature adjacent to the building or under the ramp “drawbridge.” (Exhibit 1 and Testimony). - There are 44 parking spaces provided at the rear of the building for patrons of The Armory to utilize, with four (4) of the existing spaces currently being accessible parking spaces, with the proposal to remove two of the four accessible parking spaces. The Petitioners noted that the complaint regarding the location of the spaces was addressed by removing the two accessible parking spaces at the rear lot and creating the two accessible parking spaces along the driveway to the rear parking lot. These parking spaces are parallel parking spaces along the building, and therefore do not comply with the requirements of 521 CMR. In addition to the “accessible” parking spaces, the Petitioner noted that there is a drop-off area along Highland Avenue. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Carrier). - The side door to the building, which was cited as the “Performance Space Entrance/Exit”, is not used as an entrance, but only as an emergency egress. The permit for this project was issued prior to the change in 521 CMR to require accessible means of egress in 2006. (Testimony of Sater and Hopkins). Page 5 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 6. - The Complainant reports that the threshold at the front entrance doorway is 1 ¾ inches and that the “outside/inside finish strip” measures 13.6%. (Exhibit 1). - The Complainant reported that there was no access to the Manager’s Office, which is at a level three steps above the ground floor. The Petitioners noted that the office is accessible via another set of doors that could be marked with signage. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Schaefer). - The Complainant reported that the elevator call buttons at the first floor do not have a visual signal to indicate when each call is registered and answered. The complaint regarding the indicator light at the interior of the car (521 CMR 28.9.1) was dismissed, based on the fact that information was provided that the location indicator was provided within the elevator. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Dempsey). - The Complainant reports that the intercom system at the exterior of the front entrance has controls that are higher than 54 inches. The Petitioners noted that the intercom is used for after-hours communication with any of the businesses within the building. The Complainant also stated that the intercom system is located on a portion of the ramp that has a slope of 12.8% and that the system is located 16 ¼ inches from the entrance door, when 521 CMR 39.4 requires that controls shall be located at least 18 inches from an interior corner. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Schaefer). - The Complainant reports that the signage for classrooms in the basement is all handwritten and that the men’s and women’s toilet rooms in the performance space do not have Braille. (Exhibit 1). - The Complainant reports that there is no access to the mezzanine level of the performance area, but further clarified that she thought that there may be access from the elevator to said mezzanine via a set of doors, which were locked during her visit. The Petitioner stated that the mezzanine is accessible via a set of doors that are open during performances and are accessible from the elevator lobby. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Feldman and Schaefer). - The Complainant reports that no assistive listening system is provided in the performance space, the mezzanine, the café, the existing classrooms and a conference room. The Petitioners stated that there are no fixed performance spaces within the building, since events are held at different portions of the building. The large performance space holds a maximum of 395 people, the mezzanine has an occupancy of 100, the café has a capacity of 52, the classrooms have a capacity of 15-25 people and the conference room has a capacity of 15 people. (Exhibit 1 and Testimony of Schaefer and Feldman). (File).7) At the May 24, 2010 hearing, the Board voted as follows: - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 23.3.1, 23.4.7b, and 23.6.1, regarding the lack of compliant accessible parking. The Board further voted that the parking must comply in full with 521 CMR 23 et. seq. by July 1, 2010, with both written and visual verification submitted to the Board on or before said date. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 24.2.1, regarding the lack of compliant slope at the existing front entrance ramp. The Board further voted that the Petitioners must submit plans for complying with the requirements of 521 CMR 24.2.1 by July 1, 2010. - There is NO JURISDICTION to require the emergency egress door at the side of the building, based on the date of the permits; therefore DISMISSING the complaint regarding 521 CMR 25.2 and 25.6, with the understanding that the Petitioner will post directional signage at the entrance in question as proposed. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of on 521 CMR 26.10.1 and 26.10.2, regarding the lack of compliant threshold at the existing front entrance doorway. The Board further voted that the Petitioners must submit plans for compliance by July 1, 2010. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 27.4.1, regarding the lack of compliant handrails at both sides of the existing historic stairways. - GRANT a variance to 521 CMR 27.4.1, to allow for the historic interior handrails to remain, on the condition that compliant continuous wall side handrails are installed at each stairway by July 1, 2010. Page 6 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 7. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 29.2.3, regarding the lack of access at one of the two entrances to the Manager’s Office. The Board further voted that, as proposed, directional signage shall be posted for the accessible route to the Manager’s Office by July 1, 2010, with both written and visual verification submitted to the Board on or before said date. - CONTINUE the matters regarding 521 CMR 28.3.2 and 28.5, to allow the Petitioners to review this item and submit either visual verification of compliance or a plan for compliance to the Board by July 1, 2010. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 39.3 and 39.4, regarding the location of the exterior intercom system at the front entrance. - CONTINUE the matters regarding 521 CMR 39.3 and 39.4, to have the Petitioners submit a plan for compliance or a variance request for this item with cost estimates by July 1, 2010. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT in regards to the reported violation of 521 CMR 41.1.1, regarding the lack of compliant signage for permanent rooms and spaces. The Board further voted that the signage must comply in full with 521 CMR 41 et. seq. by July 1, 2010, with both written and visual verification submitted to the Board on or before said date. - DISMISS the complaint citing 521 CMR 28.1, regarding the lack of access to the mezzanine level of the performance area, since, based on the testimony of the Petitioner, vertical access is provided to the mezzanine via the existing elevator and through a set of doors to the mezzanine. - Find in favor of the COMPLAINANT regarding the reported violations of 521 CMR 14.5.1 and 14.5.2, regarding the lack of permanently installed assistive listening systems. - CONTINUE the matters regarding 521 CMR 14.5.1 and 14.5.2, to have the Petitioners submit a plan for compliance by July 1, 2010. (File).8) Based on the submittal of an October 18, 2010 e-mail from architect, William Schaefer, regarding the proposed alterations to the front entrance ramp at the property in question. The Board reviewed the submittal during an administrative discussion at their November 23, 2010 meeting and voted as follows: - ACCEPT the submitted plan (William Schaefer & Assoc. Plan 1.1b, dated October 17, 2010) for the proposed ramp modifications to create a slope of 8.35% and therefore grant a variance to 521 CMR 24.2.1 to allow a slope of 8.35% (8.3% required). The proposed ramp work shall be completed and verified as such with both written and visual verification submitted to the Board on or before May 15, 2011. This decision of the Board was sent out to all parties concerned on December 14, 2010. (File).9) On May 4, 2011, the Board received a request for an extension from the Board’s previously issued date for compliance of May 15, 2011, as ordered in the Board’s November 23, 2010 amended decision. The Board discussed this matter during an administrative review at their regularly scheduled May 9, 2011 meeting and voted as follows: - GRANT an extension to the original date of compliance of May 15, 2011 for the proposed ramp slopes of to be at 8.35%, to June 15, 2011; with the understanding that both visual and written verification of compliance shall be submitted to the Board on or before June 15, 2011. This motion is based on the previous acceptance of the submitted plan (William Schaefer & Assoc. Plan 1.1b, dated October 17, 2010) for the proposed ramp modifications to create a slope of 8.35% (8.3% required). The proposed work shall be completed and verified as such with both written and visual verification submitted to the Board on or before June 15, 2011. This decision of the Board was sent out to all parties concerned on May 24, 2011. (File).10) On July 8, 2011, the Board received a request for an extension from the Board’s previously issued date for compliance of June 15, 2011, an extension to the May 15, 2011 date ordered in the Board’s November 23, 2010 amended decision. The submittal stated that this was due to the need to now work with the Somerville Department of Public Works and Engineering Department to work to raise the front public sidewalk two (2) inches to allow for a compliant running slope in accordance with the Board’s order. The submittal stated that the Petitioners would require until September 15, 2011 to evaluate and coordinate Page 7 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 8. modification to the sidewalk in question. The Board discussed this matter during an administrative review at their regularly scheduled July 11, 2011 meeting and voted as follows: - DENY the extension request and ORDER that the Petitioners appear before the Board for a Fine Hearing, due to their lack of compliance with an order of the Board. The “Fine Hearing Notice” is attached. This decision of the Board was sent out to all parties concerned on July 18, 2011, with notice of the present hearing also sent at that time. (File).11) Attorney Shadrawy stated that AAB6 shows the existing entry to the building. He noted that the variance for the slope was originally granted based on the information that was submitted by an architect and engineer that the owners had hired at the beginning of the project in 2004, when the building was originally purchased from the Commonwealth. Shadrawy noted that this is the oldest armory in Massachusetts. He added that the owners had thought that the slope of the ramp would be 9.8%, which was what was represented to the Board. Shadrawy noted that the all of the matters previously before the Board had been resolved with the exception of the ramp slopes. He also noted that per the diagrammatic plan of the ramp and its slopes, dated April 27, 2011; the pitch at the center of the ramp is 9.3-9.6%, and added a factor that would allow for reasonable deviations and then proposed the slope of 9.8%. Shadrawy stated that the Petitioners knew that a slope of 8.3% and a level landing were not technically feasible at this location. He also noted that the Historic Preservation Commission for the City of Somerville had to also approve any work at the building, and resulted in a significant amount of extra spending and time to complete the project. Shadrawy stated that the Historic Preservation Commission did not allow the vestibule and doors to change at the historic front entrance, as shown in AAB70. He noted that if the ramp is brought into the existing vestibule, the front doors would be required to be changed dramatically, which the Historic Preservation Commission would not allow. Shadrawy also stated that after much discussion with the Public Works Department, the Inspectional Services Department, and other agencies in the City of Somerville, and a mock-up of the change at the sidewalk to create a compliant ramp. He noted that based on the existing slope of the sidewalk, raising the sidewalk further would not be technologically feasible. He also added that the slope at this curb cut was also considered part of the historic structure since it was part of the ramp that was used by the trucks backing up to the entrance to drop-off the weapons for deliveries when the building was still used as an armory. Shadrawy stated that although Schaeffer had stated that a slope of 9.8% would be feasible, due to the constraints of the property, only a slope of 10.3% can be provided at the front entrance ramp, even with grinding and regrading the existing ramp. Shadrawy reiterated that the original architect and engineer that had proposed that a 9.8% slope would be feasible were no longer a part of the project. (Exhibit 2 and 3, and Testimony of Shadrawy).12) Schaeffer noted that the slopes of the ramp were measured on April 27, 2011 and measured with a 2-foot SmartLevel in 3-foot intervals from side-to-side and 5 foot intervals from top-to-bottom. He added that creating the 9.8% slope by raising the City sidewalk, while maintaining a 2% cross slope, the raised sidewalk created would not allow people to be able to exit their cars when parked along the adjacent street. Schaeffer noted that he had worked with Rob King from the Department of Public Works over the past few years and that King had told them that the sidewalk at this location could not be altered. (Testimony of Schaeffer).13) Feldman stated that the cross slope in front of the Armory is 3.8% at the sidewalk, noting that this is a pedestrian right of way that is not accessible in accordance with 521 CMR. She also noted that there was a May 2009 agreement with the City of Somerville and the owners of the Armory, which states that if something happens to the sidewalk, the owners of the Armory would create a compliant sidewalk at this location that could be deeded back to the City. Carrier replied that those conditions of that agreement for issuance of a temporary Certificate of Occupancy were based on the fact that if the owners damaged the sidewalk at all, it would be fixed at the owner’s cost. Shadrawy noted that if the sidewalk is rebuilt, it has to meet the City and State standards and codes. Schaeffer noted that they had asked if they would be allowed to make changes to the sidewalk in front of the building to allow for a change to the slope of the ramp; and that the City had said that they would not allow the sidewalk to be raised because of the Page 8 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 9. problem with existing vehicles. Feldman also noted that the MBTA Community Meeting was scheduled to be held at the Armory on November 2, 2011, and that the flyer relative to the meeting stated that the location was accessible to persons with disabilities. (Testimony of Feldman, Schaeffer and Carrier). Analysis The Board’s jurisdiction is established pursuant to 521 CMR 3.3.2 which requires that, “[i]f the workperformed, including the exempted work, amounts to 30% or more of the full and fair cash value…of the buildingthe entire building is required to comply with 521 CMR.” See 521 CMR 5. The value of the building was$4,000,000.00 and $3,000,000.00 was spent in September of 2004 for extensive renovations of the building;therefore, under 521 CMR 3.3.2, the entire building is required to comply in full with all applicable sections of521 CMR. Attorney Shadrawy stated that AAB6 shows the existing entry to the building. He noted that the variancefor the slope was originally granted based on the information that was submitted by an architect and engineer thatthe owners had hired at the beginning of the project in 2004, when the building was originally purchased from theCommonwealth. Shadrawy noted that this is the oldest armory in Massachusetts. He added that the owners hadthought that the slope of the ramp would be 9.8%, which was what was represented to the Board. Shadrawy notedthat the all of the matters previously before the Board had been resolved with the exception of the ramp slopes.He also noted that per the diagrammatic plan of the ramp and its slopes, dated April 27, 2011; the pitch at thecenter of the ramp is 9.3-9.6%, and added a factor that would allow for reasonable deviations and then proposedthe slope of 9.8%. Shadrawy stated that the Petitioners knew that a slope of 8.3% and a level landing were nottechnically feasible at this location. He also noted that the Historic Preservation Commission for the City ofSomerville had to also approve any work at the building, and resulted in a significant amount of extra spendingand time to complete the project. Shadrawy stated that the Historic Preservation Commission did not allow thevestibule and doors to change at the historic front entrance, as shown in AAB70. He noted that if the ramp isbrought into the existing vestibule, the front doors would be required to be changed dramatically, which theHistoric Preservation Commission would not allow. Shadrawy also stated that after much discussion with thePublic Works Department, the Inspectional Services Department, and other agencies in the City of Somerville,and a mock-up of the change at the sidewalk to create a compliant ramp. He noted that based on the existing slopeof the sidewalk, raising the sidewalk further would not be technologically feasible. He also added that the slope atthis curb cut was also considered part of the historic structure since it was part of the ramp that was used by thetrucks backing up to the entrance to drop-off the weapons for deliveries when the building was still used as anarmory. Shadrawy stated that although Schaeffer had stated that a slope of 9.8% would be feasible, due to theconstraints of the property, only a slope of 10.3% can be provided at the front entrance ramp, even with grindingand regrading the existing ramp. Shadrawy reiterated that the original architect and engineer that had proposedthat a 9.8% slope would be feasible were no longer a part of the project. Schaeffer noted that the slopes of the ramp were measured on April 27, 2011 and measured with a 2-footSmartLevel in 3-foot intervals from side-to-side and 5 foot intervals from top-to-bottom. He added that creatingthe 9.8% slope by raising the City sidewalk, while maintaining a 2% cross slope, the raised sidewalk createdwould not allow people to be able to exit their cars when parked along the adjacent street. Schaeffer noted that hehad worked with Rob King from the Department of Public Works over the past few years and that King had toldthem that the sidewalk at this location could not be altered. Upon being questioned about the availability of thedecision of the City of Somerville in writing regarding raising the sidewalk in front of the building, the Petitionersnoted that they did not have that decision in writing from the City. Feldman stated that the cross slope in front of the Armory is 3.8% at the sidewalk, noting that this is apedestrian right of way that is not accessible in accordance with 521 CMR. She also noted that there was a May2009 agreement with the City of Somerville and the owners of the Armory, which states that if something happens Page 9 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 10. to the sidewalk, the owners of the Armory would create a compliant sidewalk at this location that could be deededback to the City. Carrier replied that those conditions of that agreement for issuance of a temporary Certificate ofOccupancy were based on the fact that if the owners damaged the sidewalk at all, it would be fixed at the owner’scost. Shadrawy noted that if the sidewalk is rebuilt, it has to meet the City and State standards and codes.Schaeffer noted that they had asked if they would be allowed to make changes to the sidewalk in front of thebuilding to allow for a change to the slope of the ramp; and that the City had said that they would not allow thesidewalk to be raised because of the problem with existing vehicles. Feldman also noted that the MBTACommunity Meeting was scheduled to be held at the Armory on November 2, 2011, and that the flyer relative tothe meeting stated that the location was accessible to persons with disabilities. Based on the fact that there were other scheduled hearings waiting to be heard, the Board voted to take thematter under advisement, to be discussed at a later point in the day. Later in the day, Thomas Hopkins, Executive Director of the Board, stated that one of the owners, AlanCarrier, had approached him after the hearing that they would like to sit down with the Board and City ofSomerville to try to come to a resolution to create a compliant ramp at the front entrance. Based on that statement,the Board voted to issue fines of $500.00 per day starting October 31, 2011 and to continue on a seven-day basisuntil compliance is achieved and verified, with the understanding that the fines will be held in abeyance until anacceptable proposal is submitted and accepted by the Board. The Board further voted to notify the MBTA that aCommunity Meeting cannot be held at the Somerville Armory at the scheduled November 2, 2011 date, since theproperty is not accessible, based on the fact that the matter is still being adjudicated before the Board. ConclusionAfter reviewing the matter, the Board voted as follows: ! Take the matter UNDER ADVISEMENT, based on the fact that the time period for the hearing had expired and with the understanding that a decision would be made regarding this matter later in the day.Later in the day, the Board voted as follows: ! ISSUE fines of $500.00 per day starting, October 31, 2011, and to continue on a seven-day basis until compliance is achieved and verified, with the understanding that the fines will be held in abeyance until an acceptable proposal is submitted and accepted by the Board. ! NOTIFY the MBTA immediately that a Community Meeting cannot be held at the Somerville Armory at the scheduled November 2, 2011 date, since the property is not accessible, based on the fact that the matter is still being adjudicated before the Board. (Let the record show that the meeting for November 2, 2011 was moved to the Somerville High School.)A true copy attest, dated: November 15, 2011ARCHITECTURAL ACCESS BOARDBy: Page 10 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc
  • 11. Donald Lang, Chairman Diane McLeod, Vice Chair (not present for two of three votes)Andrew Bedar, Member Jeffrey Dougan, Massachusetts Office on Disability Designee (not present for one of three votes)Gerald LeBlanc, Member (not present) Carol Steinberg, Member (not present)D. Mark Trivett, Member Walter White, Executive Office of Public Safety DesigneeA complete administrative record is on file at the office of the Architectural Access Board. Page 11 of 11 S:AABKSuttonAgendas and ResultsDECISIONS2011103111The Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville - 103111.doc