HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
AUGUST 5, 2020
Chair Jeffrey Coomer called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. In attendance were Commission members Barbara Brown, Ed Minch, Kirk Smith and Victoria Smith, Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), 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 additions or corrections to the minutes of the Historic District Commission Meeting of July 1, 2020. Mr. Minch moved to approve the minutes of the July 1st meeting as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Smith and carried unanimously.
The first application was from Kathy Holden at 209 N. Mill Street to replace a porch roof and gutters. Mr. de Mooy stated that the applicant was dealing with a power outage and unable to attend the meeting, adding that the application is in keeping with Historic District Commission Guidelines with all necessary documentation in place and saw no reason it should not be approved. Mr. Minch moved to approve the application for roof and gutters as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Smith and carried unanimously.
The next application was from Dale Windsor and Solomon Clark at 206 Washington Avenue for replacement siding. Present for the application were Dale Windsor and Solomon Clark (owners) and Mr. Joe Santucci from George Fedale Roofing and Siding. Mr. Santucci stated that the existing structure was covered with vinyl siding sometime in the 1990s. He said that the original wood siding was buckling on the left side elevation and there was rot around all framing and window openings. Mr. Santucci stated that there was no moisture barrier in place under the siding.
Mr. Santucci stated that they were proposing to replace all siding in Hardie Plank. Mr. Minch asked if the original siding was deteriorated to the point that it needed replacing in its entirely. Mr. Santucci stated that he has explored certain aspects of the structure to date, but the left side elevation was in terrible condition. He said that it would be difficult to determine the extent of the deterioration of the siding in its totality until they get into the project.
Mr. Minch asked if the newer windows were properly installed. Mr. Santucci stated that the new windows were installed properly and that was how it was determined that there was so much rot and no moisture barrier. He said that the left side elevation was buckling at the substrate.
Mr. Coomer stated that the Historic District has approved limited use of Hardie Plank on structures, but they have never approved complete removal of original wood and replacement with Hardie Plank. He said that he wanted to see if some of the original siding could be restored before replacement was approved.
Mr. de Mooy asked if the original siding was smooth cedar wood siding. Mr. Windsor stated that he thought the original was rough-sawn cedar siding. Mr. Minch stated that he thought due to the period of the house the siding would have been smooth, without grain showing.
Mr. Minch stated that he would like to see more random patches of vinyl siding removed so that they could determine the deterioration of the wood siding on other portions of the structure. Mr. Coomer agreed.
Mr. de Mooy stated that he explained to the contractor that it would be highly unlikely that the Commission would approve wholesale Hardie Plank siding. Mr. Coomer stated that Hardie Plank siding on the entire building would only be permissible under extreme circumstances and that the applicant should try to salvage some of the original wood, especially on and for the front facade.
Mr. Santucci stated that he has worked in historic districts in Boston where Hardie Plank was permitted on all sides of a building and he just recently worked on a historic home in Lewes, Delaware where Hardie Plank was permitted on all sides of the structure.
Mr. Coomer stated that Hardie Plank is permitted in the Historic District, but the retention of original materials is what they are charged with as a Commission. He said if the original siding could be salvaged, it should be. Mr. Coomer stated that he personally would only approval smooth hardiplank and not a textured grain as was proposed.
Mr. Minch asked if the soffits would be replaced. Mr. Santucci stated that fascia, decorative corbels, soffit and rake boards would be retained, but they were looking to install a beaded Hardie Plank soffit on the porch.
Mr. Minch asked if the curved dormer was part of the window replacement. Mr. Windsor stated that the dormer window was new. Mr. Minch stated that it appeared the windows were smaller than what they would have been originally. Mr. Windsor stated that the windows were the same size, it was the way the vinyl siding was installed that skewed the photo. Mr. Santucci stated that due to the curvature of the dormer, they were proposing to use a Hardie Plank straight edged cedar shake in that area.
Mr. Coomer asked if the applicant would agree to table the application until additional vinyl was removed allowing inspection of the extent of deterioration. Mr. Windsor agreed to table the application with the understanding that they would remove the vinyl siding for the Commission to see the extent of damage to the original siding and trim. Mr. de Mooy would visit the site and make a report to the Commission on the condition of the original siding.
The last item on the agenda was from Clem Gaskill, owner of 621 Cannon Street requesting demolition of the structure. Mr. Alden Yetman of Chestertown Builders was present for the application. Mr. Coomer stated that he did not think that this house contributed to the Historic District. Mr. Minch asked when the house was constructed. Mr. Yetman stated that he can only speculate on the framing materials which to him looked to be like the house was constructed sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Mr. Minch stated that the foundation appeared to be from the 1940s.
Mr. Coomer stated that the structure was not built during Chestertown’s period of significance. Mr. Yetman stated that anything can be renovated but in this case he thought removing and replacing this property was the better course of action. Mr. Yetman said that he was not brave enough to climb under the house, but it appears a block and post was installed at some point to stabilize the structure, adding that he did not think it had a footer.
Mr. Coomer asked what would be constructed in place of the house. Mr. Yetman stated that he was hired to determine if the house was salvageable and did not know the owner’s plans for new construction.
Mr. Coomer asked Mr. de Mooy if the house could be demolished if the structure was secure and there were no plans in place for new construction. Mr. de Mooy stated that this house was located on the outside edge of the Historic District, located on a block with no sidewalk, curb or gutter. He said that the structure is marginal at best and the plan, according to previous discussions with the owner, who also owned the property across the street, was to build condominiums at the existing trailer park and a single family house on this lot. Mr. de Mooy stated that the trailers across the street have been condemned. Mr. de Mooy stated that although the house is secure, he would not qualify it as habitable due to substandard framing and cracked foundations. He said in typical demolitions, where a replacement structure was required, was for intact neighborhoods where the house was habitable and would create a gap in the streetscape. He said that he thought the demolition should be granted.
Mr. Minch stated that a property to the rear of the house already has permission for demolition. Mr. Coomer stated that the house did not add anything to the neighborhood and was not an imminent threat at this time. Mr. de Mooy stated that he thought the land would be more valuable if the house was leveled. Mr. Coomer agreed. Mr. de Mooy stated that this area was zoned R-5 and construction of a single-family structure is what would be permitted on this land when plans do come forward for a rebuild.
Mr. Minch moved to approve demolition of 621 Cannon Street as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Smith and carried unanimously.
Mr. Minch welcomed the new members Barbara Brown and Victoria Smith to the Commission.
There being no further business, Mr. Minch moved to adjourn the meeting at 5:37p.m., was seconded by Mr. Smith and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Jeffrey Coomer
Town Clerk Chair