2019, Historic District Commission, Minutes|

HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION

AUGUST 7, 2019

Acting Chairman Ed Minch called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Charles Barton, Jeffrey Coomer and Barbara Jorgenson, Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mr. Minch 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. Minch asked if there were any additions or corrections the minutes of the Historic District Commission meeting of June 5, 2019 and July 10, 2019. Mr. Coomer moved to approve the June 5, 2019 minutes as submitted and revised, was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously. Mr. Coomer moved to approve the minutes of the July 10, 2019 meeting, was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.

The Consent Calendar for August 2019 was as follows:

  • BP2019-107 – Turner/Holman, 104 N. Water Street – Replace deck boards and treads;
  • BP2019-111 – Bee Crafty Collectibles, 335A High Street – Sign;
  • BP2019-113 – Welcome Home, 107 S. Cross Street – Sign.

Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve the Consent Calendar as follows as the applications were in accordance with the Historic District Commission Guidelines:

  • BP2019-107 – Turner/Holman, 104 N. Water Street – Replace deck boards and treads;
  • BP2019-111 – Bee Crafty Collectibles, 335A High Street – Sign;
  • BP2019-113 – Welcome Home, 107 S. Cross Street – Sign.

 

The motion was seconded by Mr. Coomer and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-82 from KRM Construction for new construction at 416 Cannon Street. Mr. Bob Kent (property owner) and Mr. Chris Holmes (KRM Construction) were present for the application. Mr. Kent said that he was happy to answer any questions on the proposed design that the Commission may have.

Mr. Minch stated that a sketch of the proposed house was superimposed on a streetscape photo and asked if the sketch was to scale. Mr. Holmes stated that the sketch was roughly to scale. He said that the house would be setback 4’ further from the front then the Terpeluk residence and there was room left for landscaping. He said that there was a 3’ setback on the side yard for plantings as well.

Mr. Minch stated that the revised drawings show the garage roof lowered and said he thought it should come down further to separate the elements, making it appear like additions that occur over time. Mr. Holmes stated that there was a 3’ indentation between the house and the garage to break up the massing.

Mr. Coomer stated that the revisions are a substantial improvement over the first submission. He said that there were still several things he found problematic such as the overall length of the structure as there was no precedent for a structure of this scale in the neighborhood. There were also no houses with attached garages on this side of Washington and Maple Avenue. He said that the design attaching the house to the garage created too long of a structure. Also, the front door set back 22’ back from the front façade (26’ if the porch was included) was too far from Cannon Street and created a corridor effect much different in the character and style of any other house on Cannon Street.

Mr. Coomer stated that landscaping is in the purview of the Historic District Commission and that plantings along with fencing could possibly be used to soften the long side of the house, but a landscaping plan had not been submitted to date.

Mr. Holmes stated that the Hiron house sits directly on the property line and that this house would be 6’ from the property line for the side yard setback. Mr. Coomer asked if the owner would consider a privacy fence between the house and the alley that would soften the 93’ length of the house. Mr. Coomer stated that his biggest concern with the application was the placement of the front door, suggesting that it be moved 10’ forward so that the Cannon Street view appears as the front façade of the house.

Mr. Kent stated that the lot is 50’ wide and will have a 24’ wide road beside it. He said that the design for the house takes into account the sunlight coming in through the windows and doors. The design was like that of a Charleston residential home with a porch to a recessed door allowing for a view of and access to the side yard from the entire house. He said that he supplied photos to the Commission of a similar house on Queen Street. Mr. Kent said that nobody would see the entire length of the house driving south on Cannon Street. He said that the width of the house would only be 18’, which was smaller than the neighboring Hiron House. It would be most visible coming from the river up Cannon Street where there will be 26’ of side yard visible. He said that he did plan to landscape the area to soften it up.   Mr. Kent stated that his view from the front of the house is going to be a two-story garage with an apartment over it. He said that with the changes that were made it appears more in keeping with other houses in Chestertown and the garage in the back was a must.

Mr. Kent stated that the house itself is smaller than the Hiron House, it was the garage that made it appear larger. Mr. Kent stated that he wouldn’t be surprised if the owner of the Terpeluk House came in to build a garage once he had access to the road that was going to be built to allow rear entry to the properties in the subdivision.

Mr. Coomer stated that this house at this length will set the stage for the other 7 houses that are going to be built and said that he thought it was too long. He said that he did not want to negatively impact the character of the Historic District. Mr. Holmes stated that the setbacks on lots 2, 3, and 4 wouldn’t allow for a house like this proposal, because corner lots have smaller setbacks and were considered to have 2 front yards and 2 side yards.

Mr. Barton stated that there were many wonderful housing styles in the country, but new housing should be consonant with other housing styles in Chestertown. He said that it was important for the Commission to keep this context as to not set a precedent for the other new houses that will be coming before them. Mr. Barton stated that it appears the length of the house and the setback of the door were the two largest issues with the application and said that he thought a balance could be found. Mr. Kent stated that he thought the house would be a credit to the neighborhood and said he needed to know what they had to do because he did not want to waste any more time.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that she thought landscaping and planting could hide the length of the house, but she agreed that the entry door was back too far from the front facade. He said he thought the house was going to look great as it was designed. Mr. Kent asked where they would like the door to begin. Mr. Coomer stated that he was willing to approve the house if the applicant was willing to move the door forward (closer to Cannon Street). Ms. Jorgenson stated that she would also like to see the landscaping plan, including fencing.

Mr. de Mooy stated that there was a photo of a house on Queen Street in the file and asked if the distance from the front façade to the door on that house would be acceptable. The current distance from the front of the porch to the door as proposed was 22’ from the front façade. Mr. Coomer suggested locating the door no further than 12’ from the front façade. Mr. de Mooy stated that the door had to make sense from the interior layout. Mr. Coomer stated that it was up to the applicant to determine whether they could figure out the interior of the house to make the plan work and to provide a landscaping plan at the next meeting.

Mr. Coomer moved to approve the house design with the condition that the garage eaves come down by 18” in an effort to increase the pitch (the applicant may also choose to drop the entire roofline by 18”), the front door is to be repositioned so that it is located no more than 14’ from the front façade of the house and the applicant will return separately with a landscaping plan for approval, was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously.

The next application BP2019-90 from David C. Wright for a porch at 102 Church Alley. Ms. Mulligan explained that Mr. Wright requested the application be tabled. Ms. Jorgenson moved to table the application for the September meeting, was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-69 from Hall Properties at 107 N. Lynchburg for a fence and deck. Mr. Sam Hall, owner, was present for the application. Ms. Jorgenson asked what type of fence the applicant was proposing. Mr. Hall stated that originally he wanted a 6’ dog-eared wooden fence but the yard was so small he was requesting a chain link fence so it did not seem so enclosed. Ms. Jorgenson stated that chain link fencing was not appropriate in the Historic District. Mr. Hall stated that a 4’ fence dog-eared wooden fence would be acceptable. Ms. Jorgenson stated that picket fencing could make the space feel more open. Ms. Jorgenson stated that all fencing in the Historic District must be painted or stained.

Mr. Coomer moved to approve the application with the understanding that the fencing will be a 4’ high wood fence, either dog-eared or picket, and approval includes the deck as shown on the drawing, was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-13A from KIT Team, LLC. at 337½ High Street for front façade renovations. Mr. Jay Yerkes of Yerkes Construction was present for the application. Mr. Yerkes stated that in addition to the overhang and sign on the application they were proposing a chalkboard to be inserted where the “dead” door exists on the front of the building. Mr. Barton asked if stenciling could be used on the chalkboard making it look like the outline of an upper and lower panel suggesting a door. Mr. Yerkes stated that he would consider it, but he didn’t want to fake a door. Mr. Minch stated that nobody would want to see the chalkboard blank. Ms. Jorgenson suggested a legend at the top of the chalkboard so it could never be blank.

Mr. Coomer moved to approve the sign as presented, moving the shade lamps to center over the window, iron canopy with glass protection, and a chalkboard (applicant to return with script), was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-109 from Michael Lamb at 106 ½ N. Water Street for a solar array. Mr. Dan Baugher of Sunrise Solar was present for the application. Mr. Coomer stated that the panels as shown would be on the front facing façade and although the house sits back far from the road, the panels would be visible if walking down the street. Mr. Coomer added that the panels should be compatible with the roof material, noting that this house had a red roof and the solar panels are black.

Mr. Baugher stated that the roof on the building was new and the solar panels did not come in red. Mr. Coomer stated that the panels would be highly visible on a red roof. Mr. Coomer stated that unless the color of the roof was changing, or the panels were red he did not see approving the application. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the roof could be painted black.

Mr. Minch stated that this was a perfect place to allow for solar panels. Mr. Coomer stated that he would be willing to approve the application on the façade, but not black solar panels on a red roof. Mr. Barton stated that he thought the more the Commission was able to allow solar panels, the better it was for the planet we live on. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the Commission was bound by the Historic District Guidelines and said that solar panels are not allowed on a front facing façade.

Mr. de Mooy stated that this structure was originally a barn and is not a primary structure on Water Street. He said that the Guidelines propose that solar panels can be located on a secondary building, like a shed or barn, as an acceptable way avoid putting them on the primary structure. Mr. de Mooy stated that this application was unique in that there are not houses set back as far as this house and that the barn would have been a secondary structure to the house that sits on Water Street. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the barn was now a house and therefore the solar panels were positioned on a primary façade and asked if the required energy audit has been performed on the building and what the results of the audit showed. She said that she had a problem with the fact that the black panels would be visible on the red roof. Mr. Baugher stated that he was not sure whether there had been an energy audit.

Mr. Minch stated that the Guidelines read that solar panels, “should be placed so they are not seen from a primary public way”, which was different than saying “shall be placed so they are not seen from a primary public way”. The guidelines also stated that any leeway to these requirements may be granted on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Minch stated that this was a perfect case to grant solar panels as it was 175’ from the street. Mr. Coomer stated that there was another sentence in the Guidelines that said, “the collectors shall be located away from the primary façade”. He said that there was no reference to distance. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the primary façade had solar panels on this building, which is why the Commission had to revisit the Historic District Guidelines.

Mr. Coomer stated that he would be willing to approve the application based on distance but not the color. He said that if the roof was black he might be able to accept the primary façade with the solar panels but not as it was with a red roof. Ms. Jorgenson added that in the winter when the leaves fell the solar panels would be quite visible.

Ms. Jorgenson stated that the Guidelines should not be “twisted into pretzels” to allow a person to do something when they know the right thing to do is to have the Guidelines vetted and revised.

Mr. Coomer moved to deny the application for solar panels based on compatibility of the roof color with the panels. The motion was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson which failed with Mr. Minch and Mr. Barton opposed. Mr. Minch stated that the motion to approve would also fail with two in favor and two opposed. Therefore, the application was denied.

Mr. Baugher asked what his next steps should be. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the applicant could reapply for the solar panels and that the applicant could paint the roof black so that it blended with the panels. She said a full commission could also change the outcome of the vote.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-112 from Thomas Reilly (owner) and John Hutchinson (architect) for exterior renovations at 216 Mount Vernon Avenue. Mr. John Hutchinson was present for the application. Mr. Coomer stated that it appeared that any visibility from the public way would be minimal. Mr. Hutchinson agreed adding that there was nothing on the front façade changing and all replacement materials proposed are wood and will be stained. Mr. Hutchinson stated that the current kitchen was constructed in what was once a screened porch and the back wall bump-out was about 4”. The plan was to extend the bump-out to allow for better movement in the kitchen. Mr. Coomer moved to approve the application as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-114 from Gordon/Faulkner at 206 Philosophers Terrace for a fence. Mr. Miles Bernard, landscape architect, was present for the application. Ms. Jorgenson stated that she would have to recuse herself from the application as the property was located behind her house and there was a property dispute. Ms. Jorgenson stated that with her recusal there was not a quorum. Ms. Jorgenson stated that as a courtesy to the applicant the application should be tabled for September. Mr. Minch asked if there should be discussion. Ms. Jorgenson stated that there was not a quorum for discussion. Mr. Coomer stated that he was concerned with having to repeat the conversation with the other members at a future meeting. Mr. Minch stated that he wished this was caught earlier in the meeting because the applicants waited a long time only to not have their application heard.

The next item on the agenda was BP2019-30 from Verizon at 119 Washington Avenue for a fuel tank and fence. Mr. Ed Burke Kovacs, Whitney & Associates (owner) and Billy Kerr with J.F. Fisher Incorporated were present for the application. A new fuel tank will be installed with a fence to shield it from view. Mr. Minch stated that the first time this application was before the Commission they proposed a PVC fence which was denied. The applicant has refiled and are proposing 7’ high western red cedar fencing. Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Coomer and carried unanimously.

There being no further business, Mr. Coomer moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:30 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Barton and carried unanimously.

Submitted by:                                                 Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                          Ed Minch

Town Clerk                                                     Chair

Comments are closed.

Close Search Window