|First and Union Streets
|Cherry Alley and First Street
Most of the discussion at the HPC meeting focused on the house that will be situated along Cherry Alley. Walker submitted photographs documenting the poor condition of the existing building to justify razing it, including pictures of its concrete foundation, which is crumbling. There were questions about why the garage door had to face First Street, and the reason given was that there was not adequate space for the garage to be accessed from the alley. This reasoning seems odd, since there are a number of garages and carriage houses along that stretch of Cherry Alley, all of which open onto the alley.
There was also discussion about the intention to use Hardiplank instead of wood clapboard to clad the houses. According to Walker, Hardiplank, which is fiber cement siding, "has the same personality as wood but not the problems." He pointed out that the two houses introduced onto Willard Place by Galloway were sided with cedar clapboard, and "the planks have shrank" in the short time since they were built. He explained that the house at 13 South Second and the addition to 136 Union Street that is now 15 South Second are both sided with Hardiplank. HPC member Nick Haddad suggested the possibility of using wood clapboard on the facades of the houses and Hardiplank on the back and side walls.
HPC member David Voorhees tried to refocus the discussion by reminding the commission their concern should be "compatibility with the surrounding houses." Chair Tom Swope predicted that the proposed houses would be so compatible with their surroundings that "they'll just disappear," and architect member Jane Smith expressed the opinion that overall the proposal was fine.
When the question was raised about the need for a public hearing, Greenberg discouraged that action. Greenberg pointed out that the project had been granted a certificate of appropriateness four years ago, and although the C. of A. had expired, the project was not substantively different from the one proposed four years ago. The only thing that had changed, he said, was the makeup of the HPC. There had been "no change in the character of the neighborhood in four years." Residents of the neighborhood, who had come out for Friday's meeting to make sure that the HPC did not waive a public hearing on this project, took issue with the statement, pointing out that nine houses in the neighborhood immediately surrounding the proposed project had new owners since 2007, and many of those new owners were engaged in painstaking restorations of their buildings. One resident objected to "ticky-tacky imitation Greek Revival houses" in their neighborhood of authentic historic buildings. Greenberg cautioned the HPC that there had to be "evidence that would change the prior ruling," intimating that a change in decision now could be considered arbitrary and capricious.
Smith argued the need for a public hearing "given the extent of the project," and in the end, the HPC voted to accept the application as complete and to schedule a public hearing. Swope requested that the plans submitted in 2007 be available at the public meeting. At the end of the meeting, after other matters had been considered, it was decided that the public hearing would be scheduled for Friday, March 25, at 10 a.m.--the HPC's regular meeting time.
Mayor Scalera, who was an active supporter of the project in 2007, was at the meeting but said nothing publicly. After the HPC had moved on to another issue, Scalera remained in the chamber, carrying on a conversation with Greenberg, Galloway's attorney, and Common Council President Don Moore.
Meanwhile, the project is scheduled to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for an area variance on Wednesday, March 16. The ZBA granted an area variance to the project four years ago, but, like the certificate of appropriateness, it has expired. The ZBA meeting is at 7 p.m. in City Hall.