Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday at the HPC

It is the Historic Preservation Commission's practice to hear applications for certificates of appropriateness on the second Friday of the month and to take an official vote on granting or denying approval to projects on the fourth Friday of the month. In the intervening two weeks, city attorney Cheryl Roberts, counsel to the HPC, writes the document for each project, defining the scope of work, explaining, with reference to Chapter 169 of the city code, the basis for approving or denying the certificate of appropriateness, and enumerating any conditions or contingencies for approval. Given that schedule, yesterday was the day for the HPC to vote on the four projects that came before them on October 12.

The votes to approve in-kind repairs to 455-457 Warren Street and new storm windows for 322 Union Street were perfunctory. The HPC had a problem, though, with the proposal for 255 Warren Street. At its last meeting, the HPC had requested additional information about materials and the design. This information had been provided, but Jack Alvarez, the architect member of the HPC, had continuing concerns about ADA compliance and suggested that the project needed to come back before the HPC after the design had been approved for handicapped accessibility. HPC chair Rick Rector stressed that it was not within the HPC's purview to worry about ADA compliance and maintained that code enforcement officer Peter Wurster had already approved the design for all building code issues. HPC member Phil Forman offered the opinion that he didn't see how changes to the design made for ADA compliance would affect the HPC's decision. 

After some discussion, HPC member Tony Thompson suggested that the HPC grant a certificate of appropriateness with the condition that, if ADA compliance required radical changes to the design, the proposal would have to come back to the HPC for review. It was finally decided that the HPC would follow the course of action suggested by Thompson, and a certificate of appropriateness was unanimously approved with that condition. 

On the subject of the request to cover the leaded glass frieze at 307 Warren Street with wood to relieve the stress on the window and to protect it from further deterioration, Alvarez said that he had consulted a stained glass expert who confirmed that "to repair the window would also destroy it." The HPC was divided in its vote on this project. Thompson voted nay; former chair David Voorhees abstained because he had not been present when the proposal was presented; the rest of the HPC members--Rector, Forman, Alvarez, Scott Baldinger, and Peggy Polenberg approved granting a certificate of appropriateness to the project.

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