On October 14, a contractor representing the owner of the little Gothic Revival cottage at 611 Union Street came before the Historic Preservation Commission seeking a certificate of appropriateness to replace the roof, now cedar shakes, with an asphalt roof. The applicant argued that replacing the roof in kind would be too costly, and an asphalt shingle could be chosen that would look like the cedar that is there now.
Bohl asked if they had explored cementitious materials that look like cedar. HPC member Hugh Biber offered, "It would be pretty quick to find out cost and availability [of synthetic cedar shingles]." He suggested that price would be comparable to asphalt. The applicant maintained that no roofing contractor had recommended fake cedar.
In the end, HPC chair Phil Forman offered these alternatives: "You can stand pat on asphalt, or you can check out synthetic cedar and come back in two weeks." Since it was pretty clear that the HPC was likely to deny a certificate of appropriateness to asphalt shingles, the applicant withdrew the application.
Two weeks later, the owner of the house appeared before the HPC saying that he wanted to rescind the withdrawal of the application. He argued that he shouldn't be required to put a wood shingle roof on the house, which he maintained would cost twice as much as an asphalt roof. His appeal was interrupted by Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel to the HPC, who pointed out that the commission was not requiring that he do a wood shingle roof. The representative who had appeared before maintained that they had, and the minutes from the October 14 meeting were read to prove otherwise. The HPC reiterated that wood shingles were an integral part of the appeal of the house and they were recommending the use of a synthetic material that would have the same appearance, texture, and pattern as cedar shingles.
Today, the owner of the house was again before the HPC. He was now proposing a faux wood shake that the HPC deemed appropriate because it replicated the cedar shingles now on the house. The HPC was satisfied, and the owner thanked the commission "for insisting we look at something else"--something other than asphalt. Happy ending . . . for everyone.
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