Or is it the Devil?
On Friday morning, representatives of Emanuel Lutheran Church did not show up at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting, which puzzled everyone. Over the twenty-four hours that followed the meeting, Gossips discovered the explanation for their absence.
There's a stipulation in Hudson's preservation law that says if the HPC doesn't act on an application for a certificate of appropriateness within sixty days, the applicant may proceed with the project. The point of this is to encourage the HPC to act on applications in a timely way and to keep projects from being tied up indefinitely waiting for a yea or nay from the HPC. However--and this is important to remember--the clock doesn't start on the sixty days until the HPC receives a formal application and determines that it is complete. The requirements for a completed application are quite extensive and made very specific in the application itself. The HPC does not accept an application until it is complete, and acceptance is voted on.
When Tom Swope, chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, contacted Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster about the church back on June 22, Wurster apparently didn't issue a stop-work order as reported here. Instead he looked at the minutes for the October 2009 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission, where he found no indication that the HPC had denied the church a certificate of appropriateness, and so, because more than sixty days have passed since October 2009, he issued a building permit. The problem with this action is that the minutes also do not indicate that a completed application was submitted and accepted. Instead the minutes simply report that the parish treasurer came to the HPC with fifteen or so pictures showing how the paint was failing on the church and a proposal for covering the existing wood siding and shingles with vinyl.
This lovely church, it would seem, is to be vinyled on a technicality, and Swope, although annoyed that by the fact that the intent of the HPC was ignored by Wurster, seems willing to accept this calamity with an attitude of "We'll know better next time."
Hudson is a very small place. How many "next times" can there be?