HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
MEETING MINUTES OF WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27, 2018
The Historic District Commission of the Town of Harrisville held a public hearing on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at the Harrisville Town Offices, 705 Chesham Road, beginning at 7:00 PM.
Members present: Doug Walker, Kathy Scott, Scott Oliver, Tom Weller, Noel Greiner
Members of the public: Jason and Stephanie Raynor (applicants), Adam Kossayda (attorney for the applicants), Silas Little (attorney for the town), John Wrigley (attorney for Historic Harrisville), Jay Jacobs, Jonathan Miner, Charles Sorenson, Kathy Sorenson, Lida Stinchfield, Shane Long, Leslie Voiers, Patricia Colony, Chick Colony, Erin Hammerstedt, Anne Colony, Jeff Trudelle, Kathy Bollerud, William Raynor, Don Scott, Jeannie Eastman, Nick Colony, Andrea Hodson, Les LaMois, Barry Heineluoma, Charles Michal, Tom Hamon, Cathy Hamon
Meeting called to order at 7:07 pm.
Meeting Minutes of June 11, 2018
Noel Greiner moved to approve the minutes as written. Scott Oliver seconded. All voted in favor.
Meeting of June 26, 2018 – work session
Doug Walker noted that a meeting notice was posted 24 hours in advance at the town offices and the General Store but only two HDC members could attend. Erin Hammerstedt and Don Scott also attended. Adam Kossayda asked if the applicant had been notified. The HDC responded no, given that the purpose of the meeting was to address procedural matters related to the application, HDC regulations and review of properties, and that no decisions were made. address. When asked by Mr. Kossayda if photos of 3 Main Street were reviewed, Mr. Walker replied no. When asked by Mr. Kossayda if there was any discussion of 3 Main Street, or of relocating buildings, Mr. Walker initially responded no but restated that the meeting was about HDC application 2018-1 Raynor to discuss if the plans were complete and that there was discussion of the proposal for that property. Mr. Kossayda then noted his client’s objection to the lack of notice to his client regarding the meeting related to his application, especially attended by parties admittedly adverse to the application, who have filed a Motion for Rehearing. Mr. Kossayda added this was totally inappropriate and not how procedure works, that a notice can’t be posted about an application without notifying the applicant. Mr. Walker reiterated that no decisions were made and that the focus was timeline and procedures for the application. Silas Little stated that, since no quorum was present, there was no meeting. The HDC replied they reviewed their HDC regulations. Kathy Scott added that, since there was no quorum, the agenda did not happen and the application was not discussed. Mr. Kossayda noted that this response was different from Mr. Walker’s. Mr. Little reiterated that, if there was no quorum, there was no meeting. The HDC determined then that there were no minutes to approve.
Resumption of HDC 2018-1
Mr. Walker reviewed that the ZBA decision of May 30 resulted in the vacation of the HDC’s May 15 decision to disallow relocation of the building. The HDC turned to the plans submitted by Mr. Raynor on June 20 to determine if they were complete.
The plans included a floor plan and a site plan with elevations. Noel Greiner objected to having to review the plans that night as he hadn’t yet seen them. Tom Weller noted the plans he had seen noted that the applicant proposed to match existing siding and trim and details, and that existing windows would remain. Members confirmed that the plans were circulated by email late that morning but not all members had reviewed them. Mr. RAynor noted that two sets of proposed plans were submitted showing the garage doors in two different locations, on the front and on the side. Mr. Weller felt the plans he had seen were complete but that all members had to vote on this.
Referring to the first elevation, Mr. Walker noted that the plans depicted windows and a door schedule, clapboard, and roof shingles. Pointing out the elevation facing the lake, Mr. Walker emphasized that design details would not be decided upon then, but the question at hand was whether or not the plans were complete – i.e., plot plans, elevations, window and door and trim details and clapboards – standard procedure for the HDC. Mr. Walker stated, in his opinion, everything appeared to be there.
Don Scott asked about outdoor lighting or pole lighting and Mr. Raynor responded that no mention had been made of that and it was not part of the application. Mr. Kossayda added that, if Mr. Raynor planned on anything other than an outdoor sconce, he would return to the HDC.
Mr. Heineluoma then asked about the square footage of the existing property, including the house and barn, compared to what is proposed. Mr. Weller reminded attendees that the question at hand was the completeness of the plans, not opinions about the proposal. Returning to the matter of lighting, Mr. Weller noted that nothing in HDC guidelines addresses lighting and he believed that is a planning board or zoning board issue. Mr. Walker confirmed that the HDC has never spelled out requirements on lighting. Mr. Scott asked for more cut sheets that give more details. Mr. Raynor asked to return to the essential question of the plans’ completeness.
Jay Jacobs asked if this was the public hearing portion of the meeting, as the board had not officially opened the discussion up for public input. Mr. Weller confirmed that, at this time, the committee alone was determining whether or not the plans were complete. Mr. Walker agreed, noting the HDC would move on this issue.
Kathy Scott asked if any chimneys were missing from the plans, noting she sees only one metal chimney and not on the main house. Mr. Weller stated that the plans could be complete without this response and the question could be addressed at a later time. Mr. Kossayda responded that there is no chimney on the plan and Mr. Raynor added that, if it were a design issue, it could be added.
Mr. Walker reiterated that typically expected of applicants are details on siding, trim, roofing, colors, and what would match the existing details. The HDC does steer applicants to historically correct colors. In this case, the applicant has also included corner details, the granite façade, all elevations, a floor plan which gets submitted to the Building Inspector, and door and window cut sheets, which is all the HDC typically requires in terms of cut sheets.
Subsequently, Tom Weller moved to accept the plans as submitted as complete. Kathy Scott seconded. During discussion, it was noted that this didn’t mean additional information couldn’t be requested or details modified, but that the plans were adequate and understood. The vote was 4-1 in favor with Mr. Greiner opposed, believing not enough information was provided, or time allowed, to review the plans.
Application timeline – the 45-day review process
Returning to the question of whether or not the HDC was addressing a current or new application, Doug Walker stated the HDC was not sure where it stood in terms of the 45-day clock. Mr. Walker believed that, looking at the application as it was submitted and amended, it appeared still to meet the review guidelines. Discussion turned to the onus on the applicant versus the HDC to grant an extension. It was Silas Little’s position that the clock started June 20 with the submission of the current plans. Mr. Kossayda disagreed, citing the statute which reads that, if the board doesn’t act within 45 days, the application is deemed granted, one of the reasons the applicant filed its appeal with the ZBA. Mr. Kossayda added that the plans currently before the board comply with conditions set by the board in April, and that he would not agree that the 45 days would restart now or that his client would start with a new application. Mr. Little replied that it was a determination for the board to make, whether or not the plans complied with the specified conditions.
Kathy Scott stated this was the first complete set of plans the board had received, and thus it was fair to ask the applicant to reset the clock or eliminate it altogether. Mr Kossayda referenced the meeting with the ZBA and the discussion with that board that the HDC had the opportunity to deem the application incomplete after it was filed, but never did. Comments ensued about the HDC guidelines and the state regulations concerning the start of the 45-day clock. Mr. Walker believed the HDC guidelines state the process begins once the application is submitted and that the HDC never notified the applicant of its incompleteness. Mr. Weller added that the HDC had encouraged the applicant not to overwork the design, and discouraged them from preparing detailed plans, until it was decided whether or not it could be moved. Mr. Weller further stated that the applicant attempted to submit detailed plans at the April 17 meeting and the HDC would not accept them.
There was continued disagreement on when the clock should start. Mr. Walker asked the applicant to extend the clock in order for the HDC to complete the application process but Mr. Kossayda stated he believed the clock had already expired prior to the May 30 ZBA meeting and that, at most, his client is willing to start the clock on May 30. Mr. Walker replied that that was not the date the HDC received the plans and asked the applicant to allow more time to review the application. Kathy Scott suggested proceeding with review of the plans and determining if the HDC would provide a certificate of approval or disapproval to the Building Inspector, that either the plan was acceptable or not, making the 45-day clock a moot point. It was agreed that the discussion of the 45-day clock would be tabled. The applicant subsequently stated that it could work with conditions placed on an approval, if the conditions were specific, but that they didn’t feel any significant changes would be required. If an extension were required, Mr. Kossayda added, it would be up to Mr. Raynor.
Mr. Raynor then presented 3D renderings to present an alternative view of the proposal. The board proceeded instead with a review of the plot plan, presented on a screen. Mr. Raynor stood before the group and described the drawings, the location of the existing structures and streets, existing driveway, street and water setbacks, and property line on the southeastern side. He explained the proposal to pick up the house and move it to attach it to the north side of the existing barn, and to add a garage on that side. Asked to read the notes on the plan, Kathy Scott read aloud that the plan proposes a new deck behind the existing barn and new dormers on that barn. She noted the existing hardpack driveway which runs alongside the house to the existing shed. The applicant stated he hadn’t decided what material they would use for their driveway but that the horseshoe shaped, grass-filled, drive in front of the house would be left to fill in. Mr. Kossayda added that the new deck behind the barn would sit on top of the existing flat area of the existing addition to the barn, added at an unknown date, essentially improving what already exists. The plan also showed that the existing septic would be relocated. It was also noted that the existing angled ell on the southeastern side runs along the property line.
Asked if the entire property sits in the historic district, the response was that the boundary line is not well defined but runs somewhere through the property to the water, though the barn does sit within the historic district.
Returning to the subject of the angled woodshed, Doug Walker reread the motion of the May 15 HDC meeting allowing demolition of that portion of the house, determined to be a reproduction of an earlier structure, to allow an infill. He stated the board should revisit this in light of the ZBA’s decision. Kathy Scott stated she believes it’s still a contributing element to the historic fabric, given that most of the outbuildings are gone, and that it’s the HDC’s job to preserve exteriors of buildings. Mr. Kossayda pointed out that Ms. Scott had voted in favor of the motion to allow demolition but added that his client was fine with whatever the board decided. Kathy Scott reviewed the history of this portion of the house, noting its importance, in her opinion, to previous boards and to the district now. The board voiced mixed opinions on its value. Mr. Kossayda reiterated that the plan was not to keep it but, if it were a condition of approval to leave the ell where it is, the Raynors would agree to it, but they didn’t want it to be a factor in denying the plan if the HDC decided it didn’t like where the ell looked with a relocated house.
Discussion ensued on the older and newer features of the ell and the state of the foundation. The board sought input from the public on their view of whether or not this section of the house was worth preserving and repairing, assuming the house is moved, which it was confirmed the board was directed to allow. The board was encouraged to move along with discussion of the larger issues and to return later to the question of the shed.
Kathy Scott then moved to disallow demolition of the ell at this time, with design elements to be determined later.Preferring that the motion be stated in the affirmative, Tom Weller subsequently moved to require retaining the angled ell as currently built on the property and to square off the gabled end facing Main Street with finishes and trim to match the existing structure. Noel Greiner seconded. The vote was 4-1 in favor with Scott Oliver opposed based on his neutral position on the historic value of the structure as it currently exists.
The board then turned to the submitted plans and the conditions related to essential spatial relationships as set forth at the April 17 HDC meeting. These were:
Orientation of the façade of the house to the road. Walker asked the board if the orientation was maintained. The board unanimously agreed it was;
- Location ofall historic building elements within the historic district boundary.
- minutes of April related to essential spatial relationships.
- Here, the board digressed to discussion of the length of the house, proposed to be 106 feet. Kathy Scott saw this as a facet of essential spatial relationships. Mr. Weller noted that looking at flat elevations, as the board was doing with the plans, can be deceptive. Mr. Raynor offered his 3-D rendering and Mr. Weller shared a model he prepared. Mr. Weller described that, from the village side, the proposed garage is not visible and that from very few vantage points can the whole proposed structure be seen, and that it’s not a continuous wall.
Andrea Hodson asked if there were any renderings with views from the lake. There were none. Given the continued questions from the public and the believed distraction to the process, Jay Jacobs asked Mr. Walker to recognize members of the public rather than attendees calling out.
Discussion returned to the length of the proposed house as compared to existing houses in the district, in particular the Railey house, and whether this was an appropriate comparison. There was a difference of opinion on the applicant’s claim that the proposed house was not disproportionate to – and the layout was not uncommon compared to – other houses in the district. Discussion of various styles, uses, historical context and design were mentioned and the relevance of the examples to the application was questioned. Charles Michal, asking about the HDC’s approach to evaluating the proposal and citing the evolution of historical structures in the village, wondered which part of history the HDC was attempting to freeze in place? He also asked, if there was concern there was too much building being proposed, why does the HDC want to keep the shed? Kathy Scott replied that the issue is spatial relationships, but Mr. Michal asked what was not historic about a smaller scale structure attached to a larger one.
- If a garage is to be added, it should be secondary to both the house and the barn and its doors may not face the front (south) elevation.The board noted that the proposal calls for a slightly recessed garage. Both Mr. Weller and Mr. Walker agreed the proposed garage was subservient enough.
- Maintaining the relationship of the house to the wing. The board agreed it was being maintained.
- Maintaining the relationship of the house to the barn (with the house as the primary element and its façade forward of the barn façade). The board agreed the proposal complied.
Chick Colony then raised the question of chimneys, that the proposed drawings showed none and the existing house had two. The applicant responded that no chimneys were proposed in the main house, but one was in the plans for the barn. Mr. Oliver proceeded to state that the Raynors have been working diligently with the HDC, contrary to previous statements of others.)
- Visibility of the entire house façade. Scott Oliver asked the applicant about the trees in front of the house and his plans for the vegetation there, noting not much of the façade was visible now. Mr. Raynor noted that given the proximity to the lake, he was opting not to cut them. Walker noted that the question relates to the entire visibility of the house façade, with noobstruction from any other structures. The board agreed the condition was met.
- Elevation of the house relative to elevation of the barn. Given the relatively flat piece of property and that proportional elevations were maintained, the proposed plans satisfied the board that this condition was met.
The board considered how and if it wanted to vote on the essential relationship conditions and decided to proceed condition by condition.
A resident raised a concern that the essential spatial relationships would be compromised if the buildings became connected and that the plan veered toward a ‘mcmansion.’ Kathy Scott agreed about the concern, but Mr. Kossayda stated the analogy was not relevant given his client’s proposal to maintain the essential historic features, including the original structures. Charles Michal noted that, historically, Harrisville was a much denser village and that offering opinions and ideas about what is desirable in terms of design mischaracterizes the town’s history.
Tom Weller then moved that the proposed plan meets the essential spatial relationships as noted in the HDC’s meeting of April 17 as follows: that spatial relationships must be maintained, including orientation of the façade of the house to the road, visibility of the entire house façade, visibility of the entire barn façade, relationship of the house to the wing, relationship of the house to the barn (with the house as the primary element and its façade forward of the barn façade), elevations of the house relative to elevation of the barn, and location of all historic building elements within the historic district boundary. If a garage is to be added, it should be secondary to both the house and the barn and its doors may not face the front (south) elevation. Scott Oliver seconded. The vote was 4-1 in favor with Kathy Scott opposed due to concern about the spatial relationship of the garage to the house.
The HDC began its review of the current plans according to HDC’s Regulations from 1969 and the Secretary of Interior’s Ten Standards for Rehabilitation, copies of which had been distributed. Mr. Walker proposed testing each elevation of the plans against these regulations and guidelines. The board began with the south-facing façade. Mr. Weller noted that, other than the garage, rebuilding the farmer’s porch, and not including the air-lock entry under it, there were no new components.
Discussion moved to the barn and the proposed sliding doors behind the barn doors. The applicant explained that the doors would be open, weather permitting, to allow light and air into the house. Residents expressed concern over historical appropriateness of this use. Tom Weller was asked by a resident if he was involved in designing the doors, and he replied no but that he offered possible solutions as he knew the question would arise with the board. The applicant proposed simulated divided light on doors approximately 4 feet wide and confirmed the barn doors would stay. Erin Hammerstedt asked if she could approach the screen to point out the problems Historic Harrisville sees with the design, but Doug Walker replied the board would rather work through the plans.
As there were no other questions on the floor plan relating to the elevation, the board moved to the garage. Mr. Walker stated the plan should depict a solution that reflects an appearance from the 1800s and if there were other examples in town of garage doors with transom windows. Mr. Weller cited number 9 of the HDC’s Guidelines for Property Owners, which reads: Contemporary design for alterations and additions to existing properties shall not be discouraged when such alterations and additions do not destroy significant historical, architectural or cultural material, and such design is compatible with the size, scale, color, material, and character of the property, neighborhood or environment. Mr. Weller questioned when the guidelines say a feature has to match a certain time period.
Mr. Raynor was asked to address the proposed direction of the garage doors and he replied that placing them on the side of the house adds quite a bit of driveway, which they hope to avoid for conservation reasons, and noted the existence of many other houses in town with garage doors facing the road, for cars to pull straight in. He shared photos of these other properties with garage doors facing forward. Mention was made of the HDC’s recent approval of the Calhoun’s garage and, as with this example, the doors would roll up.
Mr. Kossayda read the notes on the relevant drawing, including ridge vent, asphalt architectural shingles matching existing, painted wood trim match existing, new painted wood garage door, 10’ by 9’, painted wood clapboards match existing, identifies new garage, poured concrete foundation with granite face to match existing, granite step in front of front door to match existing, perforated doors with infill for existing door for vestibule with two new posts for additional support for that. On the far right underneath existing barn door, a granite step to match existing under each door to the barn. On top of the barn, new dormer, new cricket connector, another new dormer and flashing for roof to wall, plate at dormer as typical. The applicant confirmed there’s a proposed wood deck for the farmer’s porch and that the trim on the garage doors would match the existing trim on the house.
Andrea Hodson asked if, on their property across the road, they would be allowed a new garage attached to their house, with a breezeway. Mr. Weller explained how the HDC worked with Mr. Calhoun on such a design, so the HDC would be hard-pressed not to approve it.
Erin Hammerstedt noted that both chimneys were being removed, and the shutters, with no note to state this, and that the louvered vent in the barn was changed to a window, which HHI sees as character-defining features, as is the form of the barn, which, in her opinion, the proposed dormers change. She added that a note states that all the existing windows would be replaced, including on the barn. Mr. Raynor replied that that was a misprint on the notes, that all the existing windows on the front of the house would not be replaced, and that he would have the architect correct this.
Concerning the barn, the dormers and the cupola, Kathy Scott stated in her mind the dormers were not appropriate, that there was no historic precedent for dormers on barns in town; instead there are clearstories or “eyebrows” to allow light in without adding much headroom.
She added that having a cupola vent was typical but she was concerned about a window. The applicant confirmed there is plexiglass in there now and that they are converting the barn into a living space. The dormers would be on the sides. Mr. Walker agreed he was uncomfortable with glass.
The board agreed that the shutters, which have both existed and not in the history of the house and are in disrepair, did not need to be replaced. The applicant confirmed the front door would remain.
Kathy Bollerud read aloud guideline #1 of the HDC regulations: Every reasonable effort shall be made to provide a compatible use for a property which requires minimal alteration of the building, structure, or site and its environment, or to use a property for its originally intended purpose. Ms. Bollerud expressed concern about the dormers, and the scale of the building, stating she believes the dormers will significantly alter the look of the roadside façade and the character of the barn. Mr. Walker agreed, citing no precedent for this. Mr. Kossayda responded that, historically, the use of the property is a single-family home on a single-family property and this would not change. Ms. Bollerud added her concern about the proposed sliding doors behind the existing barn doors, that they would remain open much of the time, and that this has been an issue in other buildings in town. Mr. Kossayda replied he didn’t think they’d agree on the significance of the effect of the dormers on the barn and the scale, and that there had previously been a significant alteration to the barn with the addition added to it and a new foundation, and that the proposal would improve its condition. Ms. Bollerud reiterated that the proposed feature enhances the scale.
Tom Weller mentioned the case of a house in town where a dormer was required by the HDC instead of a skylight, a condition the applicant could not afford to meet. He added that the point was that requiring dormers was natural at the time. The present case of dormers on a barn was new, though the applicant noted there are numerous cases of dormers on residences in town.
William Raynor discussed the history of the store in town and a property he formerly owned in Chesham, noting, in the case of the former, a proposed 10’ high fence by Historic Harrisville attempted to make which were objected to by the town and, in the latter, the disrepair and near disappearance of a rare 1910 historic home, which would not happen at 3 Main Street under the applicant’s stewardship.
Erin Hammerstedt suggested the board review the application against the standards, not against precedent. Mr. Walker replied that the board attempts to balance both. Noel Greiner suggested the applicant work with the architect on a solution for an alternative to dormers. Kathy Scott suggested returning to the board’s stated objective of filing either a certificate of approval or disapproval with the Building Inspector on the proposed plan. The idea of an approval with conditions was reiterated.
Mr. Kossayda suggested not running every element of the plan through every guideline but, instead, to look at the plan as a whole to determine whether it meets the standards and guidelines. He mentioned guideline # 9 about contemporary alterations and the point that the applicant is attempting to preserve the structure. Mr. Walker responded that the board’s duty is to consider the context of the proposal. Various ideas were raised for making the barn space usable. Ms. Bollerud worried that the HDC was bending to homeowners when she believes it’s the homeowners who want to live in the historic district who should meet the standards. Mr. Kossayda stated he believed the board’s job was to apply the regulations to the application and, if it’s believed the regulations don’t adequately protect the district, then the correction is legislative. Ms. Bollerud replied the current regulations are adequate.
The board returned to addressing the various details on the plan. Discussion began to focus on windows, with opposition to the proposal of so many windows in a barn, one of whose character defining features is that it has little glass. Difference of opinion was shared about the visibility of the southeastern façade and the appropriateness of the proposed quantity and style of windows.
Differences of opinion also were expressed about the visibility of the house from the lake and how much weight should be given to features not visible or less visible from the road. Chick Colony spoke to the origins of this language in the HDC guidelines, noting that national preservationists recommended that local authorities grant homeowners the ability to enjoy their property on the back side. He mentioned other houses with larger quantities of glass allowed facing the water and recommended that the HDC should not too much on this. Preference was stated for smaller panes of glass. Mr. Kossayda noted the electric garage door which was approved by the commission. All agreed the preferences were subjective. The applicant agreed to six over six design of windows throughout.
To summarize, the list of design concerns elevation by elevation included:
- Rear glass doors facing lake (top and bottom)
- Dormers in barn (how they affect scale)
- Windows in barn and window in barn cupola
- Sliding doors behind barn doors
- Garage doors
- Need to retain 6/6 on all windows throughout
The question of chimneys was revisited, again with differences of opinion on their historic value. The applicant stated the existing chimney would need to be replaced.
During this discussion, Tom Weller noted that not all board members agreed on the list of the six design concerns. Ultimately, the board determined the chimney could go, largely given that other changes to the structures had already occurred and it would be too onerous on the applicant.
A debate ensued on whether the board would approach a decision by approving the application with conditions or disapproving, with the applicant required to return with a new proposal. The third option suggested was to disapprove with a list of reasons for denial. Silas Little stated that the legislation called for binary action – either to approving or disapprove – and nothing further, unless the applicant agrees to a longer period of time. Debate ensued on whether or not it was appropriate to ask the applicant for an extension before the applicant knew whether or not the board would approve with conditions. Silas Little stated it was up to the board.
The design issues were revisited. The majority of the board agreed to garage doors facing the road and with the lights (windows) on the garage doors. The Colonys again raised the issue of mass and the size of the garage, proposed as a new structure in the historic district, and that the board was not obligated to approve it. The board discussed the idea of scaling it down and recessing it further. The applicant responded that this discussion already occurred, and reiterated that the conditions placed on the garage were outlined in April, implying that the idea of a garage was already approved, and the conditions were addressed by the applicant.
Mr. Kossayda reviewed the design conditions once again: No glass on the barn cupola; dormers on barn scaled down or replaced, possibly by clearstory. (Silas Little suggested a gabled dormer versus a shed dormer.); windows on barn scaled down; all windows 6/6; divided lights on sliding doors in back of barn; architect to correct plan to read that existing front windows will remain.
It was agreed then that a yes or no vote would occur on the application that night. When the subject of the barn came up again, the HDC cited Eagle Hall as an example of an HDC-approved conversion of a barn.
Mr. Colony asked the board to return to the question of whether the design is appropriate for the National Historic Landmark District. He added that, just because the ZBA upheld the appeal, it doesn’t mean the HDC has to approve the application. There was further discussion about size and mass of homes within the district and whether the board’s personal opinions about the design were impeding the applicant’s rights under the regulations. Doug Walker stated the HDC felt pressured by the ZBA ruling to compromise their position.
At this point, Jon Miner asked the HDC to focus on running the meeting and to take better control of the process. Attendees responded that they felt it was democratic one. Mr. Miner disagreed, stating the importance of meeting procedures.
Kathy Bollerud asked if the ZBA hadn’t ruled the way it did, would the HDC feel differently about the proposed plan? Adam Kossayda stated that the appeal filed for a rehearing by Historic Harrisville calls for de novo review of the application, which eliminates conditions discussed and decisions already and made.
Silas Little stated that, in fairness, at this time, the HDC was acting to approve the proposed plan with conditions that have to be met. He added that the applicant’s agreement to an extension to a specific meeting date and place and time to address the stated design conditions, obligated the board to approve the plan if, at that future meeting, the conditions were met. Mr. Colony stted the bigger issue was the proposal of an inappropriate building.
Describing her concern about the modern aspects and the spatial relationships of the proposal, Kathy Scott proposed voting on the plan, stating a disapproval could offer the opportunity for alternate designs. Tom Weller followed with his reasons for why he did not object to the plans, including his belief that it was not as big as it looks, that aspects of it would not be visible from the road, and that it was reasonable to allow a garage to be built in town. He encouraged approving the design with conditions. Scott Oliver also spoke in favor of the plan, stating, when it was all over, the Raynors will have created a very nice home. Mr. Walker restated his difficulty with the process and the ZBA’s decision. To Mr. Walker’s question about, where the HDC goes from here, Tom Hamon suggested voting it down. When Mr. Walker asked on what grounds, Kathy Scott stated on the regulations.
Mr. Kossayda expressed frustration that the board spent the previous four hours reviewing the design conditions, rather than making a decision at the outset if it had planned to deny. Kathy Scott replied that she was just seeing the plans. Mr. Weller noted the applicant’s good-faith effort all along to work with the board and that the board had been misleading them. Kathy Scott acknowledged the problem with the process and that it was not okay, but explained that the proposed modern features posed a problem to the character and integrity of the historic district and she sees this as a rationale for voting the application down.
Adam Kossayda reiterated that his client was willing to come back at a date certain, extending the 45-day deadline, with plans that meet the design elements if the board would move in a fashion to approve with conditions, but he sensed that even if his client did that, at least two board members would still vote it down.
Doug Walker then asked to table the discussion to get legal interpretation on the ZBA decision, but Silas Little stated he believed the board had to act on the application before it, that the statutes do not allow for the board to delay a decision based on a rehearing request on a decision made by the ZBA on an earlier HDC decision.
When asked if the applicant would have to start anew before the HDC if turned down, the HDC said yes, but Mr. Kossayda replied that they would go to the ZBA, where two hearings would occur.
Mr. Walker asked how the HDC was turning it down, on all ten standards or on which grounds. Andrea Hodson asked if one of the conditions, in addition to the architectural features, was how the structures were being connected. Kathy Scott, citing from the Powers and Duties section of the HDC Regulations, stated that the HDC’s scope was assessment of the spatial relationships and the exterior: “Such power of review and approval or disapproval shall be limited to those considerations which affect the relationship of the applicant’s proposal to its surroundings, to the location and arrangement of structures, to the architectural treatment of the exterior features and finish of structures, and to the compatibility of land uses within the district, as they may be deemed to affect the character and integrity of said district…”
Tom Weller expressed concern that, if the applicant returned with complete plans addressing the HDC’s design concerns, the board might continue to vote the plans down. Doug Walker agreed with the potential for a never-ending loop. He admitted to HDC mistakes in the process, including being unaware of guidelines regarding relocation of buildings, not observing the 45-day deadline, the lack of a pre-qualification process or regular meetings – even if the ultimate outcome was well-intended — and that the HDC trapped itself. He worried that the HDC wasn’t being specific enough with its reasons for disapproving or providing enough direction. Kathy Scott didn’t believe it was the board’s job to design. Mr. Kossayda stated he believed the night’s review offered significant direction and again requested a vote for approval with conditions and a continued meeting.
In response to Chick Colony’s comments that the HDC did the best it could in difficult circumstances and that the historic district isn’t necessarily the best place to build, Mr. Kossayda noted that the regulations that exist address renovations and alterations and how they can be accomplished in a way that preserve the district.
Kathy Scott then referred to standards #1, #2, #5 and #10 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation as reasons for deeming the application inappropriate.
Asking Mr. Little what would happen if the board turned down the applicant, and an appeal was filed, Mr. Little explained that the ZBA would sit as a Historic District Commission and decide on the design that the HDC denied and apply the criteria within the HDC regulations and the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines.
The board discussed potential language for a motion. Mr. Kossayda again requested that the minutes state the applicant is willing to correct the design elements of concern and to grant an extension, and it didn’t seem fair that the board considered citing these same elements in a motion to deny. Mr. Walker agreed that a larger point had to be made. Silas Little suggested an informal poll among board members about either of two motions: a) to grant a certificate of approval on the condition that the applicant returns with architectural drawings that meet the conditions, which include the windows, the cupola, and the dormers; or, b) to deny a certificate of approval. It was explained that reasons for denial didn’t have to enumerated as the ZBA would conduct a de novo hearing. Mr. Kossayda asked for a motion in the affirmative, to approve with conditions, and if the board didn’t support it, to vote it down.
Scott Oliver moved to grant a certificate of approval to the applicant with the conditions listed, including the cupola, the windows in the barn and on the back of the barn and in the front of the house and the dormers. Tom Weller seconded. During discussion, Mr. Walker expressed the preference for the application to go through the appeal process with the ZBA as it gives the HDC the option to have the proposal put back where he thought it should be in the first place, articulated on May 15. The vote was 3-2 against, with Scott Oliver and Tom Weller supporting the proposal and Doug Walker, Kathy Scott and Noel Greiner opposed.
Meeting adjourned at 12:15 am.