Historic District Commission – February 7, 2018


FEBRUARY 7, 2018

Alexa Silver, Chair, called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Ted Gallo, Barbara Jorgenson, Nancy McGuire, Ed Minch and Alice Ritchie, Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator) and guests.

Ms. Silver stated that the Chestertown Historic District Commission takes its authority from Chapter 93 of the Code of the Town of Chestertown and operates under the Historic District Design Guidelines that were adopted by the Mayor and Council of Chestertown on October 7, 2002 and revised March 7, 2012.

Ms. Silver asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the meeting of January 3, 2017. Mr. Gallo moved to approve the minutes of January 3, 2018 as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.

The first item on the agenda was BP2018-05 from Wendy Culp for exterior renovations and restoration of 215 High Street. Mr. Daniel Campbell (architect) and Ms. Cherilyn Widell were present for the application

Mr. Campbell gave a PowerPoint presentation showing historic photos and describing plans for the former Stam Drug building.

Ms. McGuire stated that too many metal roofs were being replaced when all they really needed was a coat of paint. Ms. Jorgenson asked if this was the earliest façade that was found.  Mr. Campbell stated that the enlarged photographs show clearly the 5” wood clapboard on the front of the building.

Ms. Widell stated that the architect met with Ms. Mackey Dutton and Ms. Gerry Bristoll to gain some insight from memory as to how the building appeared years ago. She added that parking meters appear in a photo, so that was an indicator of the time period, likely the 1950s.  Ms. Jorgenson stated that the Town could find out when the parking meters were installed.

Mr. de Mooy stated that the building next to Stam Drug in the historic photo was Tinch Tilghman’s parents’ residence. Ms. Widell shared that Ms. Bristoll told her that her mother was very distressed when that building was demolished because of its historical significance.

Mr. Campbell stated that once renovations were complete there would likely still be an apartment on the second floor. He said that on the left façade there is a truncated roof with a slope and there is empty space behind it.  He said that the windows were shifted over during the renovations to the front façade, and a new door was added.  The projecting roof section will be removed and the wall will be moved closer to the electrical meter providing an additional 4’ to the building.  The structure would be 3’ from the property line in the alleyway.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that it was indicated this building was constructed in the early 1900s, making it a contributing structure by definition. Mr. de Mooy stated that the survey indicates this building is non-contributing due to the fact that the original façade had been completely altered and no original elements remain.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that she did not understand why this building is non-contributing when a building down the street with a mansard roof had the entire front façade replaced and it was a contributing building. Mr. de Mooy stated that the front façade of the building under this application was removed; the other building still had the original mansard roof.  Ms. McGuire stated that the building would likely have been contributing if the original façade remained intact.

Mr. de Mooy stated that the purpose of Mr. Bourne’s survey was to prevent the Commission from having to decide if a building was contributing or non-contributing. Ms. McGuire stated that the study was not definitive but Mr. Bourne’s opinion on the structure was helpful.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that she thought the Commission first had to decide if the back of the building was contributing or not. Ms. Silver stated that the applicant indicates that there were structural reasons for wanting to remove the back portion.

Mr. Campbell outlined the structural report which indicated that there was no foundation around the edge of the building, only brick piers with timber beams and floor joists. The floor slopes 4” in some spots and 2” in others and there is a similar problem at the front of the building.  There were three (3) chimneys in the building, one of which has been partially removed.  The footings were 16” brick piers.  A slanted roof existed over the storeroom with an entire porch roof enclosed inside of the building leading to an enclosed porch.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that at the time the brick façade was installed on the front of the building the brick pillars were enhanced to support it and the floor was leveled. She asked why the back addition could not be jacked up as the front had been. Mr. Campbell stated that all floor framing was replaced at that time.  Mr. Campbell stated that it would be difficult and expensive and an additional 20% floor area could be added so they wanted to demolish that portion and replace it.

Ms. Ritchie asked what part of the front of the building would be retained and what was proposed for demolition. Mr. Campbell stated that there would be demolition of two stories in some areas and one story in others. Mr. de Mooy asked if a site visit would be helpful to the Commission.  Ms. Jorgenson stated that what mattered is what existed was contributing and could be fixed.  She said that anything could be fixed, but it sounded like the applicant wanted to remove the original in order to make the building wider and she said that she did not think it was appropriate.

Mr. de Mooy stated that the application was conceptual at this time.

Ms. McGuire moved that the front of the building would have one time been considered a contributing building and therefore worthy of reconstruction to restore it to the 19th century style and design as submitted by photographic evidence from the 1950s.  Mr. Minch seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.

Ms. McGuire moved that the rear addition is non-contributing. Mr. Minch seconded the motion and it carried with five (5) in favor, Ms. Jorgenson opposed.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that action can be taken on proposed demolition of the rear façade and subsequent replacement at a subsequent meeting. Ms. McGuire stated that archaeological monitoring should be considered for this property for both the existing building materials and underground.

Ms. Silver stated that the Commission currently appeared to be comfortable with firm approvals at the next meeting.

The next item on the agenda was BP2018-14 from Rebecca Robson and Nicholas DiPasquale at 206 N. Queen Street for wood railings and balusters on the ground floor porch and second floor front balcony, and corbels and brackets where the roof meets the exterior wall.

Ms. McGuire asked about the downspout on the front façade. Mr. DiPasquale stated that the photo was older and the gutters were replaced with K-style gutters in the same color of the trim and is not as visible.

Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve the application as it was in accordance with the Design Guidelines Section III Rehabilitation & Maintenance of Existing Structures III.1 and III.8, was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2018-06 from Lynn Porter at 225 Calvert Street for demolition of the residence and new construction. Mr. Jay Silcox (engineer) was present for the application.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that she did not think that this application met the 25-day requirement for an application and asked for a clarification. Ms. Silver stated that she considered the application date of January 11th when the application was filed.  Ms. Silver stated that the date of February 2 indicated on the file must be the day that the application was typed up.

Ms. Silver stated that there were two (2) meetings required for approval of a demolition; the first meeting was to consider the necessity or appropriateness of demolition and the second was to understand the design for the new construction.

Mr. Silcox stated that there was a narrative accompanying the application for demolition. He gave the Commission photos of the existing property and a planned concept for rebuilding.  Mr. Silcox stated that the property was falling in on itself, settling in two directions toward the center.  Portions of the first floor are in contact with the ground and other portions have fallen to through to the ground.

Mr. Silcox stated that the desire of the owners was to demolish the building. He said trying to save it and bring it to code was not ideal and would amount to an undue expense.

Mr. de Mooy stated that he toured the house with Mr. Silcox and the ceilings are at 7’, rooms are small, and the house was sinking towards the center by about 1’ or more. The stairs were just wide enough for a single person to use and are steep.  He said that it was his opinion as Zoning Administrator that there is nothing about this house in compliance with code; it was uninhabitable and completely unsound.

Ms. McGuire stated that she watched the house disintegrate and said that she was surprised it was still standing. Mr. de Mooy stated that the current owner grew up in this house and bought it back from the estate that had it for sale.  Ms. McGuire stated that it was a shame because if the property had been maintained it would have been a contributing structure.  Ms. Jorgenson stated that the house was first transferred in 1869.  Ms. McGuire stated that she was uncertain that this was the original building on the lot as the architecture indicates a later date.  Mr. Minch stated that it was also reasonable to believe that there were alterations made over the years to any original structure.

Ms. Jorgenson asked if there was anything original that could be retained from the existing structure for the new build. Mr. Silcox stated that he was unaware at this time, although he would look to salvage what he could.

Mr. Silcox stated that the property owners hired a surveyor and uncovered a 5’ easement between the brick house and this property, but there was an additional 20’ or so to build. He said that the new owners were not looking for a large house but would like it longer than it is wide.  He said they were considering a one-story house.

Ms. McGuire stated that she would like to know what would be built in place of this house more than she was concerned about the demolition, noting the plans submitted for a craftsmen style one-story house.  She said that there are craftsmen style houses on Kent Street, Queen Street, Washington Avenue and Cannon Street, but not at this location.

Ms. Ritchie stated that she thought the Commission seemed to be okay with the demolition but not so sure of the house style that was submitted, noting that something more vernacular would work on that block. Detailed plans and materials should be part of the application.  Ms. McGuire reminded the applicant that archaeological monitoring should also be performed on site.  The Commission agreed.

Ms. Jorgenson asked that in the future plans that are conceptual in nature be defined as such.

There being no further business, Ms. McGuire moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:10 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                           Alexa Silver

Town Clerk                                                     Chair