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Cantabrigians Storm Versailles

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Sort of. On Raymond Street in the Avon Hill section of Cambridge, right as North Cambridge meets West Cambridge, a 25,000-square-foot, three-story mansion with five bedrooms and three kitchens has been going up on over 53,000 square feet of land over the last four years. Neighbors have had to endure the construction, and the noise and mess that comes with it, for something they consider so gaudy, even for the manse-laden area, that they've nicknamed it the "Palace of Versailles."

All this was bad enough. Then the owner requested an additional curb cut for the property. Les citoyens n'etaient pas heureux. Per Scott Wachtler in The Cambridge Chronicle:

Margot Welch lives in the neighborhood and has spoken out against the development and its impact on the neighborhood. She said the curb cut would take away two parking spaces in the neighborhood where parking is already a problem. “We worry primarily about the destruction of the street for the purposes of recreation and pleasure that it has given people,” she said. “It’s a small, rather narrow, dead end street and it backs up on this property. It is a street that has been used by our kids and now our grandchildren for everything from riding bikes, to strollers and old people in wheelchairs.”

... Welch and others say that the size of the property will bring extra traffic just from the support staff it will take to run the mansion-size home.

Eric Griffith, the manager of the LLC developing the house, said he needed the extra curb cut because he did not want to use the same driveway as his in-laws.

"That doesn't pass the laugh test," Michael Meltsner, an Avon Hill resident opposed to the mansion, told the Cambridge City Council.

Griffith was quite serious, though.

“There is an in-law apartment in the home that we are building and the purpose of the driveway is to allow parking for when my in-laws come to visit," he told the council. "It’s not to have a large truck or crazy service vehicles. We thought having the driveway and the paring off Wyman Street would be an advantage to the community by taking parking off the street."

The council tabled a vote for the curb cut as it wends its way through Cambridge's municipal channels. For now, we'll be leafing through our Simon Schama, developing pertinent analogies.

· Cambridge Mansion’s Curb Cut Becomes Controversial [Chronicle]