HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
JUNE 5, 2019
Acting Chairman Jeffrey Coomer, called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Owen Bailey, Barbara Jorgenson, Ed Minch and Alice Ritchie, Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mr. Coomer 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.
Mr. Coomer asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the meeting of May 1, 2019. Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve the minutes of May 1, 2019 as submitted, seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
The Consent Calendar for May 2019 was as follows:
- BP2019-81 – Smith/Singer, 111 N. Queen Street – Gutters and downspouts.
Mr. Minch moved to approve the Consent Calendar as follows as the application was in accordance with the Historic District Commission Guidelines:
- BP2019-81 – Smith/Singer, 111 N. Queen Street – Gutters and downspouts.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2019-30 from Verizon at 119 Washington Avenue for the placement of a fuel tank and fencing. There was nobody present for the application and the Commission tabled the application for more information.
The next item on the agenda was BP2019-40 from KIT Team for property at 337 High Street (The Watershed). Present for the application was Christopher Frank from Hammond Wilson Architects and Jay Yerkes of Yerkes Construction.
Mr. Frank stated that since the last meeting with the Commission they performed a structural investigation of the porches on the front facade. He said that there were many problems with how the windows were installed and they were rotting. Mr. Frank stated that the glass is loose and under compression. There is no column support in any of the four corners. There is also no sill plate and the only framing in place is the siding. There were other problems such as water damage. The structural engineer says that the posts in place are inadequate. The third floor has stress cracking which is pulling away from the structure at the ceiling level and buckling the plaster. Mr. Frank stated that the wall between the porch and the original structure on the 3rd floor was removed. Mr. Frank stated that they began to open areas behind the windows and at the hinge point the gravity load was buckling the walls at the sill level by about an inch. The floor framing had to be bolstered and restructured. He presented the Commission with a letter from their structural engineer outlining his findings along with other issues that have been uncovered.
Mr. Frank stated that the wall is kicked out 3 – 4 degrees and there is a single 2×4 in between each of the windows, meaning that there are 8 – 2x4s holding the entire gable end together. The studs don’t go to the floor; they stop at the windowsill. Mr. Frank stated that a half-inch steel tie rod was installed at the front of the main building to keep the porch structure from falling. There were furring strips added at 19” on center to the 2x4s, but the 2x4s were carrying the load. The entire front porch was dramatically under structured.
Mr. Frank stated that he was looking to keep the portion of the building over top of the 3rd story windows by resetting joists. They will need to remove the rest of the storefront including windows on the first and second floor and then reconstruct the entire façade with new footings, columns and framing. He was looking at window groupings of three (3) on the second and third stories and he would rebuild the storefront reducing the size of the glass. Posts would be larger than the original. The siding panels will be replaced with a frieze board assemblage. The windows would be taller than the existing windows to keep them to the size of the interior windows (on the original building). All windows will be replaced as they will not be able to be used again. Mr. Frank stated that the band between the second and third story windows would have metal roof awnings. Sconces for downlighting will be added. The windows would be a single vertical muntin (2-over-1) matching the rest of the building. Siding materials will be Boral true exterior poly ash board with MDO trim.
Mr. Frank stated that the entire package has been sent to the Maryland Historic Trust and they were waiting on their approvals. He said that he would return to the Commission if the Trust made any changes to the plans.
Mr. Minch moved to approve the application as presented for the front façade with Marvin architectural windows (2-over-1) and all other materials as described in the plan and presentation given by Mr. Frank, as the work was in keeping with the Historic District Commission Guidelines, was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2019-47 from Charles Barton at 223 Philosophers Terrace for a fence. Mr. Barton was present for the application and apologized to the Commission for missing the May meeting. He said that the application was to reuse fencing from other houses on Philosophers Terrace in his yard. There were different styles of fencing and he explained where each type would be located on his property line. He said that the fence line drawing showed the area in which the fencing would be placed and its height. Mr. Barton stated that the fence to the right side of the house would be a consistent height of 6’ all the way to the corner property line. To the left there is a 16’ long section of 5’ tall (picket) fencing. The fence changes in height from 5’ to 4’ by the neighbor’s fencing and there will be plantings to deter any noticeable drop in height. The 4’ fence will match the neighboring fence and an arbor will be installed. Fencing will be installed using concrete posts.
Mr. Barton stated that he had a shared driveway which was mainly a grassy area. He said that this area will be enlarged a bit as he was allowing his neighbor extra parking space for his boat.
Mr. Coomer stated that there is a requirement for painting and/or staining in the Historic District. Mr. Barton stated that his plan was to leave the fencing as it is with the silver patina as it has already been weathered.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve the recycled wooden fencing as submitted, stating that this property was in the newly expanded area of the Historic District and the fencing was consistent with other fences in the neighborhood, being reused from neighboring properties along Philosopher’s Terrace and that the applicant should be permitted to forego painting or staining the wood and to leave the patina as is on the recycled fencing as it was visually consonant with the neighborhood. The motion was seconded by Mr. Bailey and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2019-58 from Robert Busler at 407 High Street for a solar array. Mr. Busler stated that he was in the process of transforming this house from a LEED Silver house (designated in 2007) to a LEED Platinum house and net zero energy usage house. He said that he would like to demonstrate to other interested parties that these results can be achieved using the framework of any 18th or 19th century renovation. Mr. Busler stated that he thought there was a need for the Town of Chestertown and the Historic District Commission to actively support the renovation of older, energy inefficient houses that are greater than 50 years of age into lower energy usage homes. He said if they did not, in his opinion, the older housing stock would continue to grow more costly to heat and cool and will decrease in value over time at an increasing rate.
Mr. Busler stated that would like to install solar modules in three locations on his house: the rear side of the roof on the front section of the house; the side addition facing the church, and; the roof of the shed (built in 2007). He said that the panels would be as flat to the roof as possible. Mr. Busler stated that, in his opinion, solar panels were temporary additions that can be removed leaving the historic building intact like storm windows, air conditioners, electric lines, etc. as there is no permanent modification to the building. He said that this type of technology has become commonplace and accepted by other Historic District Commissions even though they did not exist when 18th and 19th century houses were constructed. Mr. Busler stated that he thought the Historic District Commission should promote the aesthetic and economic preservation of the historic housing stock, but they should not ignore the economic viability and increasing costs of historic home ownership. Mr. Busler stated that solar panels are temporary and will cause no damage to the defining historical architectural characteristics of a structure.
Ms. Jorgenson asked when the south facing addition was built. Mr. Busler stated that there was debate over what portion of the house was original and said that the side of the house may have been the original facade. Ms. Jorgenson stated that she had an issue with the installation of solar panels closest to the church as they would be visible from the public way. She asked if they could be installed on the other side of the house closest to the apartment building. Mr. Busler stated that there was too much shading from the apartment building which meant that the panels would not be as efficient.
Mr. Busler stated that the panels would be visible from the street if they were on the side portion of the house, but he saw that as a positive thing as people will then see that solar panels can be used on historic buildings. Ms. Ritchie stated that the guidelines read that solar panels should not be visible from the public way and the panels as proposed will be. Ms. Ritchie stated that she thought that if the Historic District Commission was going to agree that Chestertown needed more solar panels than the guidelines should be changed to allow it. She said that she did not think the Commission should disregard the existing guidelines.
Ms. Jorgenson asked if the applicant would be willing to remove the request for solar panels on the side of the house facing the church. Mr. Bailey stated that the Guidelines indicate that solar collectors should not be on primary facades and said that the visibility from the public way is to be carefully considered by the HDC. He said that this application was not for a primary façade and thought it left room for interpretation as to installing the panels on the side of the house adding that if the property to the side was not a vacant lot the panels would not be visible from the public way.
Ms. Ritchie asked if the required energy audit was performed on the house. Mr. Busler stated that the studies were performed, adding that the house was LEED Silver having gone through a series of audits regarding energy efficiency. He said that he was trying to bring the house to the next level of efficiency.
Ms. Ritchie stated that she did not want to open the door to solar panels without updating the guidelines. Mr. Coomer agreed, stating that there was a need to update the guidelines, particularly where solar energy is concerned. He said that this application was coming in under the current guidelines and it was on the main artery into the downtown area. He said that this application conflicted with the current guidelines and the house was quite visible from all angles, although he had no problem with solar panels that are not obtrusively visible. He said that he would be happy to work on an update to the guidelines, making solar panels more approvable, but he could not approve them at this juncture on rooflines visible from High Street.
Mr. Bailey moved to approve the application as submitted as he believed in was in accordance with the Design Guidelines for solar panels, was seconded by Mr. Minch and failed with Mr. Coomer, Ms. Jorgenson and Ms. Ritchie opposed.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve solar panels on the main portion of the house (back end of roof) and the back garage, removing all panels from the side of the building was seconded Mr. Minch and carried with three (3) in favor, Mr. Coomer and Ms. Richie opposed.
The next item on the agenda was BP2019-76 from Bruce and Judy Magladry at 203 Washington Avenue for a shed. Mr. Magladry was present for the application. He said that the shed would be used as a painting studio for his wife, complete with electric and water.
Ms. Jorgenson asked what the material was for the shed siding. Mr. Magladry stated that it was a composite wood material that felt like cedar. The Commission was unfamiliar with LP Smart Panel. Ms. Mulligan stated that she researched the LP Smart Panel and it was an engineered wood treated to add strength and helps products withstand the freeze/thaw cycles, high humidity and fungal decay. She said that she would print out the information page and add it to the application. The shed will not be visible from the street. The applicant reviewed the other materials for the shed, adding that it will be set on a bed of gravel.
Mr. Bailey moved to approve BP2019-76 for a shed as proposed for 203 Washington Avenue as submitted with LP Smart Panel (included in file) as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried unanimously.
The last item on the agenda was BP2019-75 from FSK/SKM LLC. at 220 High Street for exterior renovations. Mr. Matt Hogans was present for the application and stated that he was working through a grant with Main Street. He said that the Maryland Historical Trust did not approve the windows with the mullions he submitted with the original scope of work. MHT approved single pane windows. Mr. Hogans stated that at this point he would like to requote the windows and asked that the Commission approve the window design as specified by the Maryland Historical Trust.
Mr. Jorgenson stated that she wanted to be transparent in that she was a member of the Main Street Board and Mr. Minch was a member of the façade grant committee which approved the grant for this project.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve BP2019-75 in accordance with approvals granted by the Maryland Historic Trust for exterior window modifications and repointing the brick as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Mr. Minch asked how the Commission pursues updating the Historic District Guidelines. Ms. Mulligan suggested that Ms. Silver, as Chair, contact Mayor Cerino in writing to tell him that there is a need to update certain elements of the guidelines and to request permission to move forward. Mr. Minch stated that new materials should be discussed as part of the update. There was a discussion on having someone from another jurisdiction or MHT to come before the Commission to discuss synthetic materials and supplying a list of accepted materials to give to applicants. The Commission would hold off on further discussion of this matter until Ms. Silver returned.
There being no further business, Mr. Bailey moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:31 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Alexa Silver
Town Clerk Chair