HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
JULY 6, 2016
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, 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 June 1, 2016. Ms. McGuire moved to approve the minutes as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.
The first item on the agenda was BP2016-52 from Vimi Properties at 113 S. College Avenue for a shed. There was nobody present for the application so it was moved to the bottom of the agenda.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-56 from Jane Nevins at 105 S. Water Street for a roof antenna. Ms. Nevins was present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the antenna would not be visible from Water Street and hardly visible from the water side of the house. Ms. Nevins stated that for the most part the antenna would be hidden by the chimney which was barely visible from the street. Ms. McGuire moved to approve BP2016-56 as presented as it was in accordance with Design Guidelines as it would not be visible from Water Street, was seconded by Ms. Jorgenson and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-62 from Allstate Roofing and Thomas Yeager, Esquire at 203 Maple Avenue for a roof replacement. There was nobody present for the application. Ms. Mulligan stated that the work was already taking place as the roof was leaking. Ms. Silver stated that a tree fell on the house.
Ms. Jorgenson stated that the applicant or a representative was supposed to be present for the application and she did not want to approve applications where an applicant did not appear. Ms. Mulligan stated that typically a request such as a roof replacement in kind would be approved even without the applicant present, noting that all applicants were told that they should attend the meetings. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the Guidelines say that the applicant is supposed to attend and “we” should not be making decisions as to who has to appear to a meeting. She said as a courtesy to the Commission anyone who makes an application should show up.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-65 from Creative Treatments Shutters & Blinds at 329 High Street for a sign. There was nobody present for the application. This application was passed on until later in the meeting.
The next application on the agenda was BP2016-66 from Richard Norton at 312 Cannon Street for a sign. Ms. McGuire stated that she would recuse herself from this application as she was representing the owner. Ms. Jorgenson stated that that the sign was attractive. Ms. McGuire stated that a couple months ago, a directional sign was approved for the entrance at Cannon Street. The building that this sign would be mounted on was at the end of the alley and most visible from Cross Street and Quaker Neck Road. Ms. McGuire stated that artists were located in all of the buildings and they were trying to advertise all of the studios in the space. Ms. McGuire stated that the building was large and the price to do such a large sign was expensive. She said she was working with Mr. Hickman to decrease the size of the sign and look into the cost of metal so that the sign would not have to be made in two sections. Mr. deMooy stated that the sign cannot exceed 40 sq.ft. Ms. McGuire stated that the largest the sign would be was 37.5 sq.ft. Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve BP2016-66 for a sign at 312 Cannon Street as it is in accordance with the Historic District Guidelines for signs, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-67 from Steve and Noreen Lagoy at 106 S. College Avenue for railings. Ms. Noreen Lagoy was present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record. Ms. Lagoy stated that she would like to stain the base of the handicap ramp the same color gray as the house, to bump out a portion by the door on the side of the house and install a vinyl bannister that matches the balustrade at the front entry. Ms. Lagoy stated that the existing railings were not in good condition and had been attacked by carpenter bees. Mr. deMooy stated that this house was constructed in 1992. Mr. Gallo moved to approve BP2016-67 for railings at 106 S. College Avenue as they application conformed to the Historic District Guidelines concerning this 1992 structure and carried unanimously.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-68 from Washington College and Yerkes Construction at 307 Washington Avenue for a porch remodel. Mr. John Hutchinson was of Yerkes Construction was present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record. Mr. Hutchinson stated that they were going to repair the standing seam porch roof in place rather than replacing it.
Mr. John Massey, owner of property behind 307 Washington Avenue, said that they were turning the residence into an office and asked if a handicap ramp was going to be installed. Mr. Hutchinson stated that the steps were being rebuilt to have them meet code and would be rebuilt to make them safe. He said that there was a discharge area on the stairs that were wider than the door but it was not required to have a railing due to the number of risers. Mr. Massey said that the College has not explained their plans for the building to the neighbors.
Mr. Hutchinson stated that on historic structures there were exemptions for ADA ramps, particularly for office buildings, and exemptions for building code as well, but he did not see anywhere that they were required by code to install a ramp and it was not part of the plans. Mr. Massey stated that the residence was turning into an office and if a person in that office was handicap they would not be able to access it. Mr. Hutchinson stated that if Washington College intended to build a ramp at the property they would put in a building application to do so.
Mr. Hutchinson stated that the windows would be Anderson vinyl-clad wooden windows. Ms. McGuire asked what siding was under the windows and by the door. Mr. Hutchinson stated that it was a wood painted vertical bead board. He said that he would like to use IPE wood to cap the bead board to prevent rot.
Ms. McGuire stated that she was concerned with the use of one over one windows rather than divided light windows. Mr. Hutchinson stated that he did not have an objection to using divided light windows but thought that it was a false sense of history. Mr. deMooy stated that the Commission should only vote on what was presented. Ms. McGuire stated that the Commission could just deny the window. Ms. Jorgenson agreed.
Mr. deMooy began to ask a question. Ms. McGuire stated that Mr. de Mooy was not on the Historic District Commission. Mr. deMooy stated that he was co-author of the Guidelines, sat in on every meeting and was on the Commission for six years said that he had to agree with Mr. Hutchinson’s view that divided light windows portrayed a false sense of history. He said that the applicant requested one over one windows and that was what should be voted on.
Mr. Minch stated that what was presented looked like a typical porch conversion.
Mr. Minch moved to approve BP2016-58 for a screened porch remodel and steps at 307 Washington Avenue, was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried with five (5) in favor, Ms. McGuire abstained.
The next item on the agenda was BP2016-69 from Robert and Lois Plank at 206 S. Water Street for a screened porch and shed. Mr. and Mrs. Plank were present for the application. Ms. Silver read the application into the record.
Mr. Plank stated that the porch was configured exactly as it was on the plans due to the fact that it lined up with the back door and it would be a major project to relocate the door. Also, the house had no gutters so when it is rains you get soaked when you open the door. The only enclosure will be on the gable end which will have hand-sawn siding to match the house.
Ms. McGuire asked who owned the fence in the yard. Mr. Plank stated that the fence belonged to the Jones’ next door.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve application BP2016-69 as to the screen porch as it complies with the Design Guidelines, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Ms. McGuire asked if the applicant came before the Commission for permission for the brick walk. Mr. Plank stated that he met with Mr. Ingersoll and he approved it. Mr. de Mooy stated that the new section was along the side of the house and the rest of the brick was in place.
Ms. McGuire asked Ms. Silver what should be done about the applicant not receiving approval from the Historic District Commission for the brick. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the applicant received approval from Mr. Ingersoll, which may be a larger issue.
Mr. Plank stated that the proposed shed was a Lowe’s product and was made in vinyl with siding that looked like the siding on the house and would be set on 4 x 4s and ¾” plywood. He said that he needs something for storage for the garden equipment.
Ms. McGuire stated that she did not think a vinyl shed was appropriate. Ms. Silver stated that the Guidelines indicate that accessory buildings be built with materials similar to the original residence.
Mr. Plank stated that he could build the same shed in wood as he was a woodworker. He said that he liked the look of the vinyl shed and would try to make it look the same with cedar siding.
Ms. McGuire moved to approve BP2016-69 for a wood shed similar to the photograph submitted with the application as it conformed to the Design Guidelines, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
The last item on the agenda was BP2016-70 from Alexa Silver at 111 Maple Avenue to continue a fence line. Ms. McGuire read the application into the record. Ms. Silver showed photos of the fence and said that she would like to continue that exact fence for an additional 12’. Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve BP2016-70 for the continuation of a fence at 111 Maple Avenue to be painted or stained as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Ms. Mulligan stated that something has to be done with the three applications set aside earlier in the meeting as they would be approved automatically after 45 days passed if no action is taken.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to table applications BP2016-52, BP2016-62 and BP2016-65 until the August 3rd meeting. Ms. McGuire stated that the applicants should be notified that they failed to appear.
Ms. McGuire stated that work had already begun on the roof replacement at 211 Maple Avenue. Ms. Mulligan stated that it was an emergency to fix the roof and something that would normally be approved and ratified. She said that she did not understand the reason for holding it up. Mr. Gallo stated that given that a tree fell on the house the applicant should not have to wait an additional month. Ms. McGuire stated that it was more of a maintenance issue.
Ms. Jorgenson stated that the materials proposed for the roof were not the same and she did not know the difference in the materials. Ms. Mulligan stated that the applicant was going from a 3-tab shingle to an architectural shingle which was an upgrade. The material was the same. The difference in the shingle was that the architectural shingle gave a dimension to the roof whereas the 3-tab were flat shingles.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to approve BP2016-62 for a roof replacement at 211 Maple Avenue, was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Ms. Jorgenson moved to table BP2016-52 and BP2016-65 for the August 3rd meeting was seconded by Mr. Minch and carried unanimously.
Mr. de Mooy stated that he understood if an application was tabled due to questions but did not think that applications should be tabled because there was nobody present. Ms. Silver and Ms. Jorgenson stated that they did have questions.
Ms. McGuire asked Ms. Mulligan to tell all applicants that they had to attend the meeting. Ms. Mulligan stated that she tells everyone that has an application before the Historic District Commission to come to the meeting but could not compel them to attend a meeting.
Ms. Silver stated that she would not be able to make the August meeting. Ms. McGuire would act as Chair.
Ms. McGuire stated that she would like a moment to address an issue. She said that she photographed multiple properties in Town where fences were installed but were never painted or stained as required. She said that the Guidelines read that “all wood elements on a structure must be finished, either painted or stained with an opaque stain. If treated wood is left exposed, such as decking, framing or fencing, it must also be painted or stained to insure longevity and appropriate appearance”.
Ms. McGuire stated that people think the Historic District Commission is an intrusion but something had to be done so that people understood that it was not a matter of property rights but a matter of property values. She said that every building in the District was 25% more valuable and there was a duty to enforce the rules and follow-up.
Mr. Gallo stated that it sounded like the issue was finding a way to enforce the work of the Commission. Ms. Jorgenson stated that the Historic District Commission could not be disregarded as people have worked hard to create and maintain the District. Ms. Jorgenson stated that a system should be created which would not be hard to administer where the Commission did more than come in once a month to a meeting.
Mr. de Mooy stated that a notice indicating that the Guidelines would be enforced more stringently and educating the public about the Historic District may be helpful. Ms. McGuire stated that there should be a brochure handed to every person who is applying for a permit.
After lengthy discussion, Ms. McGuire stated that as a Commission they should assist Mr. de Mooy and Ms. Mulligan regarding fencing permits issued during the past year. Ms. Silver asked if the Commission members could contact applicants to remind them of their duties where a fence was not painted or stained. Ms. Jorgenson stated that she thought the Commission could make contact with applicants.
Ms. Ritchie suggested a workshop to discuss the issues further in September. Ms. Jorgenson moved to hold a workshop to work on the issues to be scheduled after summer, was seconded by Ms. McGuire and carried unanimously.
There being no further business, Ms. McGuire moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:15 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Ritchie and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Alexa Silver
Town Clerk Chair