HPC14-407 337E3rd replace roof Murphy staffer, Lori Powers Murphy applicant
Powers is applying to replace corrugated metal roofing with asphalt shingle on a 1895 Queen Anne style house. Murphy cites the Guidelines as only allowing asphalt shingle as a replacement roof material, not as new roofing. She proposes standing seam metal since Sanborn maps suggest this was the original roof material. PJ Roofing Thurmont quoted $11,450 new 7/16 OSB tar paper and asphalt shingle roof with new valleys, eaves and vents sealing, Certainteed Landmark Weathered Wood shingle, 6” K style alum gutters and 3×4 alum downspouts. Cost for standing seam metal would be in the region of $25k to $35k.
COMMENT: Murphy is correct in the main thrust of her staff report: the Historic Guidelines do NOT permit replacement of a metal roof with asphalt shingles as the owner proposes. But the issue is whether the Commission will further the cause of fair and reasonable historic preservation by insisting on the Guidelines in view of:
(1) the cost premium to the homeowner of say $20k or well over twice double asphalt
(2) the fact that asphalt shingle is the roof material of about half the houses in the Powers’ block east of East Street
(3) the Commission routinely disregards the Guidelines bar on asphalt shingle roofing in new construction within the historic district – the major developments Maxwell Square and North Pointe both have asphalt shingle roofing
(4) the house location on the far eastern edge of the historic district in a tract annexed by the Commission barely a decade ago
RESULT: the Commissioners had trouble deciding this and there was a long period of silence when it came to discussion. Only after staff had suggested the Powers’ document the ‘economic hardship’ in a little known hardship appeals process did they move to vote: 4 to 2 for the staff report denying the use asphalt shingle (Tydings and Wesolek in favor of the Powers use of asphalt shingle, other four voting for staff denial.)
COMMENT ON THE RESULT: HPC policy on use of asphalt shingles is both an absurdity and an injustice. City staff and the Commission don’t question asphalt shingle on developers’ buildings in flagrant violation of the Design Guidelines that are supposed to be the basis for their decisionmaking. Instead in cowardly fashion they pick on the small people denying them the right to use an economical roofing material they allow developers to use.
HPC14-408 113E7th add height to previously approved garage applicant Ryan Weinstein, Holli Violette agent, Murphy staffer
Weinstein got approval last year rebuilding a double garage on the alley to provide a second level under a shed roof in place of a gambrel-style roof, but is applying now to revise the height from 14ft to 16ft on the alley side and from 16ft to 18ft on the house side. The extra 2ft, he finds, is needed to provide adequate headroom and to make the addition usable.
Murphy notes that the Guidelines state (p101) “New garages must be compatible in scale, form, roof type, openings, location and orientation of historic garages.” And that there aren’t many 2-story garages, except from “inappropriate” 20th century alterations. She says staff have found the 14ft height already approved on the alley is “the upper end of appropriate” as it will appear much larger.
“Any increase in the height would not be appropriate without revisiting the footprint, form, and massing… to mitigate its appearance and impact…” Only the south side facing the house should be increased in height.”
COMMENT: Murphy’s assessment is arguable. This is going to be a much higher building than others in the alley. But does it really matter? Who cares? This is not really an alley but a scruffy joint driveway of completely utilitarian sheds and garages of little or no historic importance. There is no history to preserve. No “contributing resource.” This case illustrates why the HPC should be focussing on the streetfronts, not fussing over buildings at the backs.
RESULT: The Commission the staff report denying the headheight by 4 votes to 2 (again Tydings and Wesolek for letting Weinstein have 2ft extra, four voting for staff report to deny.)
HPC14-490 120W3rd balcony/porch at back Lucy and Kevin Hogan applicant, Martinkosky staff
Martinkosky writes that this meets the Guidelines since it is not being added to a character defining facade and the design of the addition is similar to the original.
COMMENT: here we have recognition that construction at the rear is less a historic preservation issue. Here was the kind of minor change that should never have been required to come to the Commission. Put simply in the back it is no one else’s business.
RESULT: unanimous approval.
HPC14-516 24 S Court modify attic window John & Carolyn Greiner applicants, Murphy staffer
Murphy OKs plan by Paul Wade to replace rotted wood lintel in brickwall with angle iron and new lintel
HPC14-517 Austin Alley garages of 115E2nd, St John Evangelist Catholic Church house, Joe Lubozinski, Fitzgerald Heavy Timber Construction, Murphy
The plan is to strengthen the 6 bay garage structurally with new main columns and new longer span header beams and replace 6 x 8ft garage doors with 3 x 16ft doors, and apply new wood siding and trim.
Murphy cites p100 of Guidelines as requiring character-defining features of garages to be repaired but if deteriorated beyond repair they must be replicated, and no metal doors that imitate wood panels. Although the existing doors and siding are not historic, the single door per vehicle is the traditional pattern and should be followed.
Murphy cites the Guidelines on strict judgment of proposals of historical and other significance (contributing resources) and leniency on buildings of little significance (non-contributing) without saying this garage is clearly non-contributing. She has said the garage is “not historic” yet leaves open the idea that it may be ‘contributing’ before calling for the HPC to deny the application.
COMMENT: This is a slippery ploy by Murphy – admitting the existing garage is “not historic” having T1-11 siding and non-original metal doors, then going well beyond anything in the Guidelines on a non-contributing resource to call for the single bay doors to replicate some imagined original garage.
HPC14-519 129E Patrick, infill to replace a garage door on N Carroll Street, Dennis Hoffman & Paul Tinney, Gary Baker agent, Murphy staffer
The infill is proposed to look like historic hinged garage doors. Murphy: “The proposed wall gives the appearance of a wood garage door that is appropriate for the period of the structure.”
COMMENT: This is a turn-up. A wall detailed with hinges to look like double doors! A Potemkin garage door. Staff and the Commission usually object to ‘fake historic’ items. Verboten is fiber cement board with a wood texture, or asphalt shingle textured like wooden shakes. New work usually has to be differentiated from the historic. Plus a repeated theme of the Guidelines is that a “false historical appearance” is not permitted. But that’s all out the window for Gary Baker’s Disneyworld design. Perhaps because Baker was until recently a member of the Commission and a strong supporter of City staff?
NOTE: not recommended by US Secretary Interior standards: “Giving the building’s site a false appearance by basing the reconstruction or conjectural designs or the availability of features from other nearby sites.” p174.
HPC14515 42 E South 30” extension at the rear re-sided, new window Damien Walters agent, Murphy staffer
Murphy cites the Guidelines p134-6 on additions saying they must not “compromise the integrity,” damage or conceal “historic fabric that is considered essential to the character defining nature of the building or specific features,” must be located inconspicuously, differentiated form historic, relatively limited in size and scale, mustn’t be higher or longer or wider, must use materials compatible with the age and style, roof form compatible with existing roof etc.
This is an empty house bought in a foreclosure, the new owner apparently attempting to finish a small rebuild/rehab at the rear that was being done without a building permit. He proposed a new front door to replace an odd interior door with a diamond shaped window.
COMMENT: This again raises the public/private realm issue of what business a public agency has in regulating the historics of the rear of private buildings. Requiring a historically compatible front door, most people would support as part of the streetscape and a legitimate public realm issue, properly the subject of historic review. But like the interiors of houses the backs should be recognized as of insufficient public interest to justify this kind of historic micromanagement. The case also raises the disincentive that the HPC poses to investors buying buildings in foreclosure given the Commission’s unconcern about the costs of its procedures. Slapping extra cost, delay and uncertainty on rehabbing buildings like this can only increase the number of abandoned and blighted buildings in the historic district.
39 code enforcement cases reported in HD in June – signs, fences, decks, garage doors, banner, sat dish, heap of neon signs, several repairs needed, rear porch, downspout, window sill, sandblasting brick, wall sign, new front doors, new window etc