Monday, December 9, 2013

Preservation Update: 215 Union Street

At the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on November 22, it was learned that a building permit had been issued to reconstruct what was once 900 Columbia Street on the vacant lot at 215 Union Street, in spite of the fact that a certification of appropriateness had never been granted for the reconstruction.

The information raised the question of when the building permit had been issued and by whom. It turns out that it was issued on October 24, two days after Peter Wurster retired as code enforcement officer on October 22, and four days before Craig Haigh officially took over as code enforcement officer on October 28. So who issued the building permit?

Apparently, Wurster and Haigh issued the building permit together, when Wurster was no longer officially the code enforcement officer and Haigh wasn't officially the code enforcement officer yet, in an interim when Wurster was training Haigh. Haigh defended the action, saying there was a certificate of appropriate to "relocate" the house to 215 Union Street, seeming to think that it was significant that the narrative of the certificate of appropriateness did not specify that the house had to arrive at its new location intact and not in bits and pieces. City attorney Cheryl Roberts, who had written the narrative, intervened, pointing out that Galvan Partners had applied for a certificate appropriateness to move the house to a historic district, and the certificate of appropriateness that was granted did not cover reconstructing the house in a historic district using materials salvaged from the dismantled house.

Haigh has reportedly suspended the building permit and issued a stop work order until the plans for the reconstruction have been presented to the Historic Preservation Commission, and the HPC has granted a certificate of appropriateness. 

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