HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
JANUARY 6, 2016
Alexa Silver, Chair, called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Susanne DeBerry Cole, Veronica Golden, Nancy McGuire and Ed Minch, 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 December 2, 2015. Ms. Golden moved to approve the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
The Consent Calendar items were as follows:
BP2015-184 – Crawford/Blue Heron Contracting, 104 N. Water Street – roof;
BP2015-186 – Daniel Divilio, 303 N. Kent Street – fence.
Mr. Minch moved to approve BP2015-184 and BP2015-186 as submitted as they were in keeping with the Historic District Guidelines for roofs, windows and fencing, was seconded by Ms. Golden and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2015-169 from Carla Johnson at the Tidewater Trader for a roof at 300 South Cross Street. Ms. Carla Johnson and Mr. George Kennedy were present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record.
Ms. Johnson stated that at the December 2015 meeting the Commission approved a standing seam metal roof, but she would prefer to roof the building with architectural asphalt shingles as she found that this type of roofing was previously on the building. She said that she did some research and other train station buildings on the Eastern Shore have architectural shingles and presented photos which are attached to the application.
Ms. Golden stated that the asphalt shingle was not approved at the last meeting because the Commission was under the impression that a metal roof once existed. Ms. Johnson stated that there was no documentation to support that a metal roof existed on the building.
Ms. Johnson stated that she traveled to Selbyville, Seaford, Berlin, Clayton and Cambridge train stations and they all have asphalt shingles. She also showed a photo of her building in the mid-20th century which shows asphalt shingles on the building before it was moved to its current location.
Ms. Johnson reviewed the historic site survey for the Commission, which was entered into the record. She said that although she was not certain that asphalt shingle was the original material on the building, she was certain that metal was never used.
Ms. McGuire asked what changed from the original application which asked for a standing seam roof. Ms. Johnson stated that the original application asked for standing seam, but at the meeting she asked that asphalt shingle be considered. Ms. McGuire stated that she did not know who wrote the application, but it specifically asked for standing seam metal roofing and if it was disallowed, there was a request for asphalt. She asked if this request for standing seam was because of a comment made at the last meeting about cost of shingles being less expensive than standing seam metal.
Ms. Johnson stated that she wanted to use architectural asphalt shingles because it was proven that shingles were once on the building. Ms. Mulligan stated that the Town Manager came across an old photo of the train station and put it into the file at the same time a Commission member was reviewing the files. Ms. Johnson was not aware of the photo depicting the asphalt roof until the meeting was taking place.
Ms. McGuire asked if the Commission thought the building had asphalt shingles when it was built in 1903. Ms. Silver stated that she did not think the Commission could speculate what the roofing material was in 1903, but there was historical documentation that there was asphalt shingle roofing at one time. Ms. McGuire stated that she did not think a decision should be made when the Commission did not have information on the original roofing material.
Ms. McGuire stated that she saw this as changing from one application to another. Ms. Silver stated that the application could be viewed as a new application and that asphalt roofing on all the other Eastern Shore train stations provides support for approval. Ms. Golden stated that she appreciated the examples of the other train stations as it showed continuity of material. She said that at the last meeting there was a motion for an asphalt shingle roof and it was opposed and her concern was procedural.
Mr. de Mooy stated there is no precedent for forcing an applicant to install a roofing material that could not be proven ever existed on the building and not wanted by the owner. Ms. McGuire stated that she thought the original application specifically requested a standing seam roof and if it was disallowed the applicant wanted asphalt. She said that cost should not dictate decisions by the Historic District Commission.
Ms. Johnson stated that was not her recollection of events. Mr. de Mooy stated that the motion in the previous meeting was not made on the basis of cost, but because the owner stated that she would prefer an architectural asphalt shingle and there was photographic evidence of it.
Ms. Silver stated that she would like to consider the application from the angle that the owner changed her mind. Originally, she wished for a standing seam metal roof, but has provided documentation of the building in question and other similar buildings on the Eastern Shore with asphalt shingle roofs.
Ms. Golden stated that had the documentation submitted at this meeting been included at the previous meeting, she would have been in favor of asphalt shingle. Ms. Golden stated that what she was worried about was that they voted differently at another meeting. Ms. Silver stated that the matter should be reviewed as a new application and how this application fit with the guidelines.
Ms. Cole asked why the applicant did not wish to reroof with wood shingles as currently existed on the building. Ms. Johnson stated that she wanted to maintain the building as it was historically. Mr. Kennedy stated that the solid substrate underneath did not indicate that a wood shingle roof was original either.
Ms. Golden moved to approve BP2015-169 for an architectural shingle roof, as it is a contributing structure and meets the requirements for roofing under the Historic District Guidelines, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Ms. McGuire stated that she would like to review Robert’s Rules of Orders to make sure that procedures are being followed. Ms. Silver agreed to look into this question.
The next item on the agenda was BP2015-188 from Roland/Horrocks at 407 Cannon Street for exterior renovations. Mr. Ken Horrocks was present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record.
Mr. Horrocks stated that there was wood clapboard under the cedar shake siding and he would like to remove the cedar shakes and restore the wood clapboard. The back half of the house was only 12’ wide and the applicant would like to add a second story to the side addition for additional living space.
Mr. Horrocks stated that there would be two (2) windows on the second floor addition and he said he would use 2-over-2 clad wood windows throughout. He said that currently the windows were mixed and were either wood or aluminum.
Mr. Horrocks stated that he would like to center the ridge pole to the new roof line in the rear. Ms. Golden stated that there were three (3) different roofing materials on the house at this time. Mr. Horrocks stated that he would like to use architectural asphalt shingles on all the roofs. He said that what exists is not original and there were numerous examples on Cannon Street of houses with architectural shingles.
Mr. Minch moved to approve BP2015-188 for exterior renovations at 407 Cannon Street as it was in accordance with the Historic District Commission Guidelines, was seconded by Ms. Golden and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2015-165 from Chichester Landvest/Russell Richardson at 328 Cannon Street for demolition. Ms. Joanne Baker of Torchio Architects presented for the owner. Ms. Silver read the application into the record.
Ms. Baker stated that she was present at this meeting to establish the building as contributing or non-contributing. Ms. Baker read over the Historic District Commission’s criteria for contributing buildings. She said that the building was approximately 2,100 square feet (20’ wide, 105’ deep) with a 10’ alley running alongside the building located in R-5 Downtown Residential Zoning. She said that a portion of this building was constructed in the 1920’s but due to alterations over time, what was left was a “hodge-podge” of construction types that was mostly rotten and full of mold.
Ms. Baker stated that there was nothing significant about the structure of the building and if it had to remain in place would likely continue to deteriorate. She said that everything original has been removed.
Ms. Baker stated that the front porch addition was 6’ deep and 15’6” wide. This was built post 1940 and did not contribute to the Historic District. Ms. Baker stated that there was likely an original porch but what was in place is not original. She said that it appears that the front portion was added in an effort to have restrooms, but there was no photographic evidence of what originally existed. She said that the structure was at grade with wood floors that were rotting and a great deal of mold growth. There was asbestos siding and a plywood gable with double steel entry doors.
The center section of the building was built sometime in the 1920’s and was a 220 sq.ft. two story wood frame construction. It is poorly constructed and has had all original exterior material removed, noting that stucco was in place currently. Ms. Baker stated that although she has been in the main structure, the crawl space was to shallow to get access. The floors are soft and sill plates are not in good shape. This portion of the building is one room with one room on the second floor. The roof is sagging. There is stucco applied on three sides with asphalt siding on the rear. There was also OSB fascia boards on this portion of the structure.
Ms. Baker stated that the back section of the building took up the rest of the property and consisted of a long, narrow concrete masonry unit (CMU) construction and was built in 1964. The exterior was painted. There are wood trusses inside with asphalt shingle roofing. A portion of this building served as the church sanctuary. The windows are a mix of wood and aluminum. Some windows have a leaded glazing while others have a stick-on film to resemble stained glass.
Ms. Baker stated that there was family history at this property as it was passed through generations, but not that of a significant historical figure. There is no record of historical events at this site. She said that all of the physical changes to the building over the years destroyed historic integrity, but the structure was a simple colonial revival building when originally built. Ms. Baker added that in reviewing the 1923 Sanbourne Maps there was an earlier building that was configured differently.
Ms. Baker stated that this building changed so much through the years that it was not offering much back to the Town at this point. She said that there was no historic fabric left and it was a liability to the owner. There was no record of historical, cultural or social importance relating to this site and there was no indication that there would be any archaeological findings of value.
Ms. Golden stated that the first claim in Ms. Baker’s letter was that this building had “no record of individuals, events, activities or developments that shapes history or reflects important aspects of our history”. Ms. Golden stated that this was a historically African-American street, especially this intact house. She asked if anybody had looked into this as a cultural meeting space or any other events since it was a church.
Ms. Baker stated that this was a residence for many years, which turned into a church in later years. Ms. Cole stated that Ms. Lillian Bartley transferred the ownership to a Board of Trustees in 2001, but the site was functioning as a church well before that. She said that Lillian was known as “Sister Leanne” and the church had been around for decades before it was transferred.
Ms. Cole stated that there were cultural and social aspects to this site for the black community. She said that as early as the 1880’s a family was living in this house and that it was transferred through several generations of family, demonstrating stability.
Ms. McGuire stated that she was empathetic to keeping the African American history alive and said that the area has been gentrified, but the building was in terrible disrepair. She said that there was nothing to build back or restore. Ms. McGuire stated that this parcel could become a park, but a park would not say what it was or contribute to the community.
Ms. Baker stated that there could be recognition of the site in some way, if the owner was in agreement. Ms. Cole stated that the original section of the building would make a quaint office or shop. Ms. Baker stated that the original section was too small and would not meet any type of building code. Mr. de Mooy suggested leaving only the piers in place to demonstrate the size of the original house.
Ms. Baker stated that the owner was looking to continue a tree line along Cannon Street and thought it would be possible to preserve the piers and create a grassy area.
Ms. Golden stated that there were a few derelict buildings on this historically black portion of Cannon Street. She asked if demolishing the building and putting up a plaque would set a precedent. She asked if there were any groups interested in doing research or memorializing these buildings.
Mr. de Mooy stated that a perfect example of preservation was the Sumner Hall on South Queen Street. Ms. McGuire stated that the property in question was private property. Mr. de Mooy stated that the precedent of losing buildings has unfortunately already been set but there was more of an effort in preserving history now than in the past. Mr. de Mooy suggested archeological monitoring of the site.
Ms. McGuire moved to approve BP2015-165 for demolition of 328 Cannon Street due to the deteriorated condition of the building, but given the cultural significance of the site, the applicant is required to return with plans for its interpretation, and to conduct archeological monitoring when demolition occurs. The Historical Society of Kent County will be included in the development of interpretive material for the site. The motion was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2015-185 from Erik Walter and Helena Hermes at 225 South Water Street for a carriage house. Mr. Max Ruehrmund, architect, presented the application.
Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the owners were given approval for demolition of a structure on this site and given prior conceptual approval for a carriage house. Ms. Golden asked why the siding was vertical rather than horizontal. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the board and batten look was common on carriage houses as can be seen on other carriage houses in Chestertown, adding that the choice in siding was ultimately left to the discretion of the owner. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the property owners’ desire for a carriage house was so that they could have a combination work space and living space.
Ms. McGuire expressed concern over the number of carriage houses that were coming before the Historic District Commission for approval. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that people today wanted to live in smaller homes and carriage houses fit the bill for many people. Mr. Minch stated that his problem was that this was such a small living space where a larger house could be built for a family could live. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that this was a larger issue and this site was previously given conceptual approval for a carriage house by the Commission in a previous meeting.
Ms. Cole stated that she appreciated the design as it was modern looking rather than trying to replicate an older house.
Ms. McGuire asked about the materials on the building. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that all materials were outlined in the plans and directed the Commission to page DD-2.1 of the plans where samples of all exterior finishes were shown.
Mr. David Turner, resident of 104 Water Street, was present and stated that carriage houses have been lost through the mid-Atlantic and the South over the years. He said history shows that carriage houses were used as stables and the second story was for haylofts and slave or servant quarters. Exterior materials were either vertical board and batten (oak or poplar) or stucco.
Ms. McGuire asked about a driveway. Mr. Ruehrmund stated that the drive has not been finalized to date, but he thought it would be built with pavers.
Ms. Golden moved to approve BP2015-185 for a carriage house at 225 South Water Street as submitted as the proposed work conforms to the Town of Chestertown’s Historic District Guidelines, was seconded by Ms. Cole and carried unanimously.
Mr. de Mooy stated that Mr. Torr Howell of Blue Heron brought in synthetic material samples and he was going to request a list with costs to go along with the materials.
There being no further business, Ms. Cole moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:50 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Golden and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Alexa Silver
Town Clerk Chair