Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tall Garage Still a Topic of Discussion

The fate of the proposal to increase the height of the garage at 829 Warren Street has still not been decided. 

On August 14, with five of the seven members of the Historic Preservation Commission present, three members--Peggy Polenberg, Phil Forman, and Miranda Barry--voted to grant the heightened garage a certificate of appropriateness; two--Rick Rector and David Voorhees--voted against it. Because four affirmative votes are required to grant a certificate of appropriateness, approval was denied.

On August 28, when the HPC met to review and approve the language of the document denying the certificate of appropriateness, which is supposed to elucidate the specific reasons why it was denied, only four members of the HPC were present: Polenberg, Rector, Voorhees, and Forman. All four needed to vote aye for it to be a majority of the body, and Polenberg voted nay. Rector, who chairs the HPC, decided that guidance was needed from Carl Whitbeck, the city attorney, who serves as counsel to the HPC.

This past Friday, the problem was presented to Whitbeck. Not quite understanding the dilemma initially, Whitbeck reiterated that affirmative votes were what mattered. The HPC did not vote to deny; denial was the consequence when fewer than four members of the commission voted to approve a proposal. When Barry explained that the document denying the certificate of appropriateness, which stated that the certificate of appropriateness was being denied because the proposed alteration was not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, did not reflect what actually happened, because three members of the HPC had thought it did meet the criteria for compatibility. Whitbeck said he would reword the document to indicate that the votes for approval were insufficient to grant a certificate of appropriateness.

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