Friday, August 3, 2012

Seen on Warren Street

A new sign went up yesterday on Warren Street. This would be unremarkable were it not for the fact that it announces the real estate business of Peggy Polenberg, the newest member of the Historic Preservation Commission, appointed in May by Mayor William Hallenbeck. Polenberg got a permit to install the sign but failed to apply for and receive a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.

The law is quite clear on this point. (Underscore has been added to highlight the relevant part.)
Section 169-5. Certificate of appropriateness for alteration, demolition, or new construction. [Amended 6-15-2020 by L.L. No. 3-2010] A certificate of appropriateness is required to carry out any exterior alteration, additions, restoration, reconstruction, demolition, new construction, or moving of a landmark or property within an historic district, or to make any material change in the appearance of such a property or its windows, or install or move a satellite dish. This certificate is to be obtained prior to obtaining a building permit. A certificate of appropriateness must be obtained even if a building permit is not required. Noncontributing properties within an historic district must also follow the same procedure. An application for a certificate of appropriateness for the alteration or addition of a sign in an historic district or associated with a landmark may only be submitted to the Historic Preservation Commission after issuance by the Building Inspector of an erection permit pursuant to Chapter 244.
Is it too much to expect that the members of our regulatory boards be familiar with the laws they are expected to apply and uphold?


  1. I never got a permit for my sign, not sure if I needed one. I suppose the design is so simple no one complained.

  2. Permits for signs,especially hanging over pedestrian sidewalks,
    need to be permitted, for the safety of the public,regardless of district.
    It's Hudson Law. and should be.
    Building Code
    Chapter§ 244 SIGNS
    § 244-3 Permit required.

    It shall be unlawful for any person to erect,
    repair, alter or relocate within the City of Hudson any sign or other advertising structure, as defined in this chapter, without first obtaining a permit from the Building Inspector and making payment of the fee required by § 244-7.

    A sign in a Historic District would have
    to follow the Historic Preservation Laws as sited by Gossips,above
    and have a certificate of appropriateness from HPC and a bldg.permit.

    The fact a member of Historic Preservation Commission,just ignored
    the Historic Preservation Law,that she as been appointed to protect,
    is more than depressing.

    What really confuses me in Hudson Historic Building code is
    § 169-14 Role of Building Inspector.

    The Building Inspector, in issuing permits, shall determine whether referral
    to the Historic Preservation is necessary. The Historic Preservation
    Commission shall notify the Building Inspector of all determinations.

    Does this mean Bldg.Dept.can ignore the Historic Building Codes
    ,if he feels like? It's his call?Is there no mandate that Bldg.Dept must inform
    HPC of any application for permits ,that would fall
    under a change to an existing structure or new construction in a
    Historic District as you sighted above?

    in Section 169-5. Certificate of appropriateness for alteration, demolition,
    or new construction. [Amended 6-15-2020 by L.L. No. 3-2010]
    Would you mind help clarifying, how this all works?

    1. Clarifying how the relationship between the Code Enforcement Office and the Historic Preservation Commission actually works is a tall order, Prison Alley, but on the subject of signs I will explain how it is supposed to. Typically a project needs to go to Code Enforcement first, and Code Enforcement decides if the project needs a certificate of appropriateness BEFORE a building permit can be issued. In the case of signs, however, the order in which permits are issued is reversed. The law was altered in 2010 to reverse the order because the HPC getting bogged down reviewing signage requests. The regs for signs (size, materials, placement, mounting devices, etc.) are all part of the building code not the historic preservation law, and HPC didn't want to be granting a certificate of appropriateness to a sign that for some reason didn't meet the standards set in the building code. So the order of acquiring permits was reversed in the case of signs: first a sign has to pass muster with Code Enforcement, which apparently the sign in question did; THEN it has to get a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission, which was never sought in the case of this sign.

      Municipal law isn't something anyone would consider a real page turner, but Chapter 169 isn't that long. You would expect that someone who lives in a historic district AND was appointed to the Historic Preservation Commission would at least consult it before hanging a sign on her building. To make it easier, you can even search the code electronically on the city website. It takes you right to the relevant section.

  3. Thank-you for taking time to reply.
    But even if reversed,what would compel someone not interested in historic preservation who owned a building in a Historic District, to voluntarily go in front of HPC,after they received Bldg.Permit,first.
    And the The Building Inspector, determined referral to the Historic Preservation wasn't necessary.
    They would be chancing losing time and money? It would seem,the building Inspector,has way too much power,especially since this particular one has no love for History and preserving it and HPC has little to none.
    § 169-14 Role of Building Inspector.

    The Building Inspector, in issuing permits, shall § 169-14 Role of Building Inspector.
    The Building Inspector, in issuing permits, shall determine whether referral
    to the Historic Preservation is necessary.
    HPC has no enforcement power,does it?.If a sign was approved by bldg. dept.but something that HPC would not have approved and they hang it up anyway in Historic District,because they have a permit,can they be forced to take it down if complaint is made by HPC?

    I'm asking about signs,but my question is broader.Like the case of the dormer on Warren 800 block.
    Bldg.Dept had to have issued the permit,which would be required by Law, in whatever district,and then CEO decided not to inform HPC ,so it took just someone seeing it ,to make the HPC complaint?How does that work?

    What can be done,other than ,if someone wants to buy a house or build in a Historic District,the City would have Realtors issue prior to sale the HPC Laws and Bldg.Codes.Then they would have full knowledge.If they don't like them,a great deal of Hudson is not in a Historic district.They can buy elsewhere.Something like that might have stopped some of Galloway's shenanigans.

  4. SKETCH - our new Art Store on the corner of Warren and 7th - made sure she went through the proper channels before hanging her sign on a pre-existing bracket.