Residents, developer continue battle over historic Roxborough home

Members of the Central Roxborough Civic Association dedicated a portion of their meeting on Thursday night to discussion about developer Todd Joseph’s plans to demolish the historic “Benjamin Kenworthy” home at 365 Green Lane and replace it with six smaller housing units.

The message from residents was clear: They do not support Joseph’s plan.

Among several concerns raised, residents say Joseph has not provided visuals of the proposed units, adding that Joseph’s failure to keep up with maintenance at the property — which he already owns — and his failure to attend previous meetings with the group has affected their trust in him.

“You have not built trust,” resident Prudence Humber said to Joseph at the meeting. “You have said you would be at meetings that you didn’t show up for. My major concern is that you will just decide you want to go and tear it down anyway, and that would not be working with the community.”

Joseph apologized for missing previous meetings with the group and attempted to explain his blueprint for the 10,000 square foot lot.

“What we had in mind was taking a picture of the house that exists there, and if we could, somehow replicate six mini ones with the same sort of stone, the same sort of look,” he said. “It would be more conducive to the look of Roxborough than some of the other townhouses that are getting approved.”

On July 2, Joseph and his attorney Zhen Gen will go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment to ask for a variance based on a financial hardship. If granted, Joseph will be allowed to build townhomes on the property even though it currently has an RSD-3 code, which effectively limits use of the property to single-family dwellings.

According to Gen and Joseph, they are seeking to demolish and rebuild on the lot because the property is in such bad condition it would not be economically feasible to renovate.

“The interior is completely dilapidated. It’s uninhabitable. I just don’t think the way the structure is formatted; it could be rehabbed as a multi-unit dwelling,” Joseph said.

CRCA president Don Simon said the group will be sending their recommendations for, or more likely against the proposal to the Zoning Board ahead of the July 2 hearing.

When asked what he will do if his proposal is not approved by the Zoning Board, Joseph said, “I don’t really know yet.”

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