Historic District Commission Meeting Minutes – April 4, 2018

HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION

APRIL 4, 2018

Chairwoman Alexa Silver called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Owen Bailey, Ted Gallo, Nancy McGuire and Alice Ritchie, Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) 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 March 7, 2018. Mr. Gallo moved to approve the minutes of March 7, 2018 as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.

There were two items on the Consent Calendar as follows:

  1. BP2018-25 – Cooney/Allstate Building, 236 Cannon Street (Building B) – roof replacement.
  2. BP2018-28 – Bradshaw, 117 Court Street – front porch light installation.

Ms. McGuire moved to approve BP2018-25 and BP2018-28 as submitted, as they were both in accordance with the Historic District Commission Guidelines. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gallo and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2018-05 from Wendy Culp for exterior renovations, demolition of the rear addition and new construction for property at 215 High Street. Mr. Daniel T. Campbell (architect) presented for the applicant.  Ms. Silver read the application into the record along with recommendations and motions made at the HDC meeting of February 2018.

Ms. Ritchie asked for clarification of where the demolition would begin in the rear and marked it on the drawings dated 4/4/18 for the file.

Mr. Campbell stated that he explained at the February meeting that the structural engineer found the 16’ x 60’ rear addition in poor shape with a bad foundation of brick piers. The rear portion was 16’ wide by 60’ long.  He said that when the 16’ wide addition was removed it would be replaced with a 20’ wide addition.  Mr. Campbell stated that the original part of the building has a steeper gabled roof with two dormered windows on the front, the imprint of which is still seen in the 3rd floor attic.

Mr. Campbell stated that the front façade of the building was changed in 1960 and the plan was to reconstruct the original façade. He said that the rear addition could be seen from the front but would be painted in a muted color so it did not detract from the front façade restoration.

Ms. McGuire stated that the 1950s addition was brick but was not original to the building; therefore, painting the unpainted brick in this instance would be allowable. Mr. de Mooy agreed, stating that the non-contributing addition was being removed from a contributing building to return it to its historic appearance.  The painted brick would be a residual piece of the non-contributing addition.

Ms. Ritchie asked how much room would be between the buildings if the addition went from 16’ wide to 20’ wide. Mr. Campbell stated that there would be at least 3½’ between the buildings, noting that this is traditionally an alley and there are some mechanicals placed there.

Ms. Ritchie asked if and by how much the impervious surface would be increased. Mr. de Mooy stated that there would be no change to impervious surface because the entire property is currently impervious.

Ms. McGuire asked about materials for the front façade. Mr. Campbell stated that the front façade would match almost exactly in look and material to what was original, noting that he had photos to use for examples.  He said that the 5” wood clapboard is still in place, there would be wood shutters with louvers, corbels under the roof overhang, arched dormers, tin imitation shingles, and the windows and trim would be duplicated.  The brick parapet on the adjacent structure would remain visible.

Mr. Campbell stated that the floor structure in the front portion of the building was in such bad condition that he would remove it and use it as an opportunity to lower it for ADA compliance.

Mr. Campbell stated that there would be an apartment and a business space planned for the second floor. He said that the client would like the option of putting in a roof deck on the rear second floor (enclosed with a screen porch), noting that he nestled the porch into the roof so it was not as visible as it would be if on the top of the roof.

Ms. McGuire stated that the applicant would have to return with samples of materials. Mr. Campbell agreed, stating that the construction documents will also have much more detail to show the Commission.

Mr. Bailey moved to approve demolition of the rear addition as described in the application and shown on drawings marked H2 (dated 4/4/18) as it was in keeping with the Design Guidelines, with the understanding that archaeological monitoring will take place during demolition with a report submitted to the Commission upon completion. The motion was seconded by Mr. Gallo and carried unanimously.  

Ms. McGuire moved to approve the reconstruction of the front portion of the building with details as outlined on drawings marked H2 (dated 4/4/18) as it was in keeping with Historic District Design Guidelines, contingent upon receiving and approving cut sheets of proposed materials, was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried unanimously.

Ms. Ritchie moved to approve the new construction, including the additional width of the building from 16’ to 20’ at the rear end of the building, consistent with drawings submitted H1 and H2 (dated 4/4/18) and contingent upon presentation and approval of a materials list, was seconded by Ms. McGuire and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2018-06 from Lynn Porter at 225 Calvert Street for demolition and new construction of a single-story residence. Ms. Silver read the application into the record.  Mr. Jay Silcox was present for the application.

Ms. Silver stated that it was determined in the February 2018 meeting that the existing house could not be salvaged but a motion for demolition was not made. Ms. Silver stated that a new house design was submitted this month for the Commission to consider.

Mr. Silcox stated that this was a partially ready set of construction drawings but materials have not been decided to date. The elevation was the property owner’s primary concern at this time.

Ms. Silver stated that she photographed houses along Calvert Street and Kent Street and said that there was a large variety of architecture to choose from. She said that Craftsman style houses not unlike the proposed house could be found on Kent Street.

Mr. Silcox stated that the lot was 50’ wide by 112’ long and there were two lots to the parcel. He said that at a surveyor would complete a plan showing the lot limits and how the house would be situated on the lot.  He said that the proposed house style was single-story, 32’ wide by 58’ long.  He said that the length of the existing house was similar although it was narrower.

Ms. McGuire asked what setbacks were required on Calvert Street for new houses. Mr. de Mooy stated that there was no front yard setback requirement for this block of Calvert Street.  Mr. Silcox stated that the he thought the side yard setbacks were 6’ but he would like to install a driveway and wanted to see how that worked once the site survey was complete.  Mr. de Mooy stated that a variance could be sought for setbacks if necessary.

Ms. Ritchie asked if the house would be similar in size to the neighboring brick rancher. Mr. Silcox stated that he thought it was similar.   Mr. de Mooy stated that the housing styles on Calvert Street were so widely varied that he did not think the rhythm of the street would be interrupted in any way by the proposed house.

Ms. McGuire stated that she was not comfortable approving the new construction until she was aware of the setbacks. Mr. Silcox stated that the new construction would be narrower than the rancher next door.

Mr. Gallo stated that the house had to be torn down even if the structure proposed was not approved; adding that he did not think an empty lot was good for the neighborhood. He said that there was nothing in this application that was not appropriate to the area.

Mr. Gallo moved to approve the demolition of the structure at 225 Calvert Street, was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.

Mr. Gallo moved to approve the proposed new construction for 225 Calvert Street as presented to the Commission with the understanding that the applicant will return with cut sheets of all materials for the structure, was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried with four in favor, Ms. McGuire opposed.

The last item on the agenda was BP2018-27 from Yerkes Construction and homeowners, Sally Findlay and Gene Nelson, for exterior renovations at 209 N. Water Street. Mr. Jay Yerkes of Yerkes Construction was present for the application.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the front porch is not in good shape, with substantial rot and a buckling beam. He said that he would like to salvage the beam in order to save the roof by installing temporary diagonal supports in order to inspect the beam and splice if needed.  The columns were completely rotted.  Ms. Silver stated that she visited the property and can attest to the rot on the porch.

Mr. Yerkes stated that he hoped to be able to support the roof while removing the columns, railing and decking. He would then sister the structure with new pressure treated joists and replace the decking, railing and posts.

Mr. Yerkes stated that he was proposing to use an extruded synthetic material for the new decking. He said that he read the Design Guidelines and it was clear that materials should be painted wood.  The Guidelines do not say wood is imperative.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the applicants want to use a synthetic material because it does not have to be maintained and the existing wood decking is slippery. The proposed columns and railings were also an extruded material, but once it is painted it looks just like painted wood.  Specifications were included in the plans and the columns would be identical in appearance to the existing tapered columns.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the scale of the materials proposed is appropriate, the only difference being that the materials are not wood. Ms. McGuire asked about using IPE, similar to what the neighbors used on their porch.  Mr. Yerkes stated that the applicants did not want IPE or mahogany as they were trying to stay away from a natural wood because they wanted a painted finish.

Ms. Silver read through the Design Guidelines on porches. She said that the Commission would have to address the issue of new materials because they are constantly changing and improving in their appearance.  Ms. McGuire stated that the front façade was always going to be the front façade and this was an important house in the Historic District.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the material proposed for the decking was shapeable, solid, slip-resistant and would last a very long time as it is not prone to rot. Ms. Silver stated that the Commission had to be cautious in setting a precedent.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the applicants were also requesting changes to the rear of the house (riverside). He said that the owner has a woodworking shop under the deck on the rear of the house and would like to waterproof the decking above the sunroom so that the shop area remains dry.  There will be a bump out created to give him the length he requires in order to work on rowing skulls.  The existing stairs are next to a tight property line and the stairs were relocated and tucked into the width of the existing deck.

Mr. Bailey asked if the side decking would be removed. Mr. Yerkes stated that the side decking would be removed and doors on the side of the house were non-functional.  Mr. Yerkes stated that the doors below the deck would be wood and were proposed with divided lights.  Ms. McGuire stated that she thought the divided lights were jarring and should be single pane to match the rest of the house.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the material he was proposing for the deck was an extruded fiberglass with rubber weather stripping in the grooves which made it waterproof. Mr. Yerkes added that this deck was rotting even though it was made of mahogany.  Mr. Yerkes stated that he was proposing the same posts and railings he proposed for the front of the house, noting that those in place are not original.

Mr. Yerkes stated that each door was approximately 3’ so the windows would be approximately 42”. Ms. McGuire stated that the divided light windows on the basement doors bothered her.  She asked if those doors were set in or would they be flush with the decking.  Mr. Yerkes stated that there would be a small setback.

Mr. Yerkes stated that the roof on the sunroom porch was a failing rubber roof. He said that the roof will be replaced and then a level structure with decking will go over it so it can actually be used as a deck.

Ms. Ritchie moved to approve the portion of BP2018-27 request to replace the roof and deck on the upper waterside balcony as submitted, as it was in keeping with the Design Guidelines, was seconded by Ms. McGuire and carried unanimously.

Ms. McGuire moved to approve the portion of BP2018-27 for a new design of the back deck, including the new design of the stairway, doors to the basement with windows to be undivided or two-over-two to keep with the other windows on the house, and that the materials Harvest Collection Azek Slate Gray decking, railing and balustrades, all to be painted, to be permitted as presented. The motion was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried unanimously.

Ms. Silver stated that the Commission now had to discuss the front porch. Mr. Yerkes stated that nobody would know the difference if the Commission allowed the proposed columns, railings or balustrades because it looked like painted wood once finished.  He said that the decking is artificial but the applicant was concerned about the slickness of the painted porch and said that he would be happy to find out if a product was available without the grain.

Ms. McGuire stated that the Commission has denied siding with an artificial grain and did not think it was appropriate on a front porch. She asked if it could be painted.  Mr. Yerkes stated that it was a paintable product but would not hold up to foot traffic and the paint would wear off.

Ms. McGuire stated that she was concerned about setting a precedent, noting that this was an example of a period house where the front façade was tremendously important. She said that in a historic area you can tell where the artificial materials were used, particularly if paint can’t be applied.

Mr. Yerkes stated that this was a topic to address because these materials were going to continue to be developed and people will want to use them. Ms. McGuire asked what the point of having a Historic District was if they can’t keep materials consistent with the period of the building.  She said that the back of a house was different than a major façade on an important street in the Historic District.

Mr. Yerkes asked if the synthetic paintable material would be permitted for the columns and the railings. He said that he thought a painted finish would look better and would suggest Douglas Fir to the homeowners.

Ms. McGuire asked if he had a sample of what the railings and columns would look like when finished. She said that she thought it would look artificial because she never saw artificial material that looked like wood.  Mr. Yerkes stated that he thinks she probably has seen this and that it was so realistic that she would have been fooled into thinking it was wood.

Mr. Yerkes stated that he has a reputation to defend in Chestertown, known as a person with expertise in historic renovations. He said that he gave his testimony on how he felt about this material and he said that if it was not going to look like wood he would not have proposed it.  He said that this was a structural material unlike the vinyl materials the Commission may have seen in other applications.

Ms. Ritchie stated that the proposed decking did not look like wood. She said that she would like to see what the other extruded fiberglass materials looked like after it was painted before they made a decision on the front porch project.  Mr. Yerkes stated that he could return with a sample at the next meeting.  Ms. Silver stated that she would welcome some examples that she could look at around Town with those materials.  Mr. Yerkes stated that he would try to find some examples and send the addresses, noting that he used it on Talbot Street in Easton.

Ms. Ritchie stated that the artificial columns were permitted on Cannon Street in an arts-and-crafts style building, but this was a contributing structure.

Ms. Silver stated that if Mr. Yerkes could educate the Commission more on the product with samples it would be appreciated. He asked if the front porch could be tabled for next month. Ms. McGuire moved to table the front porch section of the house for the May 2018 HDC meeting, was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.

Ms. Ritchie asked when the Commission would hold a workshop on procedures. Ms. Silver stated that she would like the members of the Commission to send questions to her so that she can look into the specific issues before a workshop is scheduled. Ms. Ritchie asked stated that everyone should read the Historic District Rules of Procedure and the Design Guidelines.

There being no further business, Ms. McGuire moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:35 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                          Alexa Silver

Town Clerk                                                     Chair

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