Friday, August 22, 2014

More About 134-136 Warren Street

A number of people showed up on Friday morning for the Historic Preservation Commission meeting, among them Ferol Barton Blake, who designed the storefront proposed for 134 Warren Street; Tim Slowinski, who owns Limner Gallery at 123 Warren Street; Pam Kungle, who owns and resides at 124 Warren Street; Joe Gentile, from the Register-Star; John Isaacs, of; and Myron Polenberg, husband of HPC member Peggy Polenberg. It seemed most were there expecting an opportunity to protest or defend the HPC's decision to deny a certificate of appropriateness to the facade changes proposed for 134 Warren Street, but no such opportunity was forthcoming.

HPC chair Rick Rector stated at the outset that it was not a public hearing and they would not be entertaining comments from the public. The purpose of the meeting he explained was "only to do the HPC's business."

The HPC first attended to two applications that had, at the last meeting, been deemed incomplete: replacement windows for 556 State Street and a revision of the front porch at 434 East Allen Street. In each case, the information needed to make the application complete was provided, and the members of the HPC voted unanimously to grant a certificate of appropriateness.

Next came the formal vote on 134-136 Warren Street. Rector read aloud the statement, prepared by HPC counsel Carl Whitbeck, denying a certificate of appropriateness and then called for a vote. Of the five HPC members present (Tony Thompson has absent), four voted in support of the denial (Rector, David Voorhees, Miranda Barry, and Peggy Polenberg), and only one--Phil Forman--voted against it. It is interesting to note that on August 8 Polenberg voted to grant a certificate of appropriateness, and two weeks later, she voted in support of denying a certificate of appropriateness.

The HPC then took its formal vote on the language of the certificates of appropriateness for three other projects: handrails for the stoop at 32 Warren Street; a sign at 431 Warren Street; facade renovation at 243 Warren Street.  (Two of these properties are owned by HPC members, and each member appropriately recused himself when the vote was taken on his project.)

The business of the HPC being completed, the meeting was adjourned twenty minutes after it began.  Myron Polenberg, however, objected that the people who had come to the meeting had not been heard. Rector pointed out that the meeting was adjourned. Whitbeck assured Rector, "It's up to you whether you accept public comment or not."

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