2014, November 21 | Friday 4:18 am

by Peter Samuel

Lisa Murphy, the City’s lead historic staffer regularly twists the Design Guidelines in a crusade to block residents from fixing their asphalt shingle roofs. She was at it again in HPC14-929 in the hearing Nov 13 (granicus 02:10) on an application to renew damaged asphalt shingle roofing at 100 East Church Street. The shingle replacement was needed as part of repairs after a major roof beam break and a drop in the supported roof decking. The existing asphalt shingle has to be removed in order to remove the damaged deck and install new nom2x12 LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beams to replace a broken roof beam.

Murphy cites Chapter 5 Guidelines for Rehabilitating Various Building Elements, BldrJobPic100EChrchPart L Treatment Guidelines for Roofs, Paragraph 8, p87: “Replacement of roof sheathing. If replacement of the finished roofing becomes necessary, either the existing roofing type (if it is original or appropriate to the building) or a substitute material that reflects an earlier roof must be used…”

This says that replacement with the existing roof materials is permissible unless the material is deemed not “appropriate” – a vague word that a controlling bureaucrat loves to wield because it places almost no limits on their power.

Ms Murphy deemed asphalt shingles not “appropriate” having dug up a 1973 photograph of the building with a standing seam metal roof.

Murphy1113rtHer report did describe the Guidelines as “somewhat contradictory on the appropriateness of asphalt shingle roofing.”

Chapter 4 Materials for Rehabilitation and their Treatment, N. Roofing Materials, p61 reads:

“5. Asphalt shingles can be used to replace existing asphalt or asbestos shingles and on additions, but otherwise they are not permitted unless evidence of their use exists under later roofs.”

There is an unqualified statement: asphalt shingles “can be used to replace existing asphalt shingles.”

So the Guidelines in the two places say that the existing roofing can be replaced with the same material. In Chapter 4 p61 asphalt shingle replacement is specifically and unequivocally OK’d. In Chapter 5, p87 there is no specific mention of asphalt shingle just the general statement that any replacement of roof material in-kind is OK so long as it is “original and appropriate.”Parnes

Ms Murphy perversely sets aside the Guidelines’ specific and unqualified green light for replacing asphalt shingle with asphalt shingle at p61, invoking that second generalized clause p87 that doesn’t get into specifics of materials but simply says any roof material used in replacement must be “original and appropriate.”

Any self-respecting citizen feels sickened when an arrogant bureaucrat deploys this smug all-purpose ooze-of-a-word “appropriate” to justify her obstructionism, her nasty assaults on citizens’ own efforts at preservation, all in the name of “adhering to the Guidelines.”

The lack of principle here is highlighted by ‘staff’s’ lack of regard for the very words of the Guidelines when it comes to use of asphalt shingles on new construction which gets routine approval in staff reports, leaving Murphy to derive her schadenfreude picking on private citizens. But we’ve reported that unconscionable situation before.

Winnette joins Parnes

WinnetteThe case of HPC14-929 thankfully saw this staff report set aside. Chairman Scott Winnette asked the applicant Doug Chappell if it was possible to only replace the section of asphalt shingle on the roof damaged rather than redo the whole roof – apparently fearful of the precedent. Chappell said 60% to 70% of the roof has to be taken off and to not replace the whole roof with new asphalt shingle would be “not a good job” to do that. You’d be coming back in perhaps five years and replacing the remainder.

The tone was set by Commissioner Stephen Parnes (02:09:50): “I believe in rehabilitation with historic materials but I am also one that believes that something that is already there can be replaced in kind. We should not be asking or requiring somebody to go back to another time period, so I am fine with asphalt shingles because that is what’s there now.”

Parnes said he couldn’t vote to require someone to go back to an earlier material even though personally he would prefer standing seam metal: “That is what I would do, living in the historic district.”

Chairman Winnette said he agreed: “I am pretty much a purist about the words before us in the Guidelines. We do have this portion of Chapter 4 stating asphalt shingles can be used to replace existing asphalt… (p61) I am mindful that the other portion (referred to) in the staff report is more in line with the secretary of the interior’s standards for rehabilitation. Yet we do still have that sentence on page 61.”

He said this might be something to clarify when there are recommendations to mayor and board (of aldermen) on revisions to the Guidelines. Winnette added strangely: “Hopefully not any time soon.” (He prefers the current unholy mess?)

Zero support for Murphy

There was no further discussion of the case no Commissioner expressing support forCybularzSmile Murphy’s move to deny the right to replace asphalt in kind.

Commissioner Rebecca Cybularz moved a motion to approve either asphalt shingle or standing seam metal. Chairman Winnette suggested and Cybularz agreed to an amendment citing p61 in support of approval of asphalt shingle roofing. Wesolek seconded. There was no discussion. The vote to allow asphalt shingle over Murphy’s attempted blockade was unanimous.

- editor 2014-11-20

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