Historic District Commission
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Meeting Minutes

The Historic District Commission held its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 7:00 pm at town offices, 705 Chesham Road, and via zoom.

Members present: Doug Walker, Anne Howe, Kathy Scott, and Rex Baker. Members present via zoom: Noel Greiner, Scott Oliver. Member of the public: Don Scott, Afton Rodriguez, Erin Hammerstedt

The meeting opened at 7:10 pm.   

Members moved and voted unanimously in favor to approve the agenda.

Meeting minutes of 5/27/2020
Members moved and voted unanimously in favor to approve the minutes of May 27, 2020.

Welcome new member
Chairman Doug Walker gave a warm welcome to new HDC member Rex Baker, noting how happy the board is to have his experience as an existing town official with the Zoning Board and his input as a resident of the village historic district.

Mr. Walker then noted that site visits were not conducted for the submitted applications, given members’ familiarity with the projects and properties, and in light of the challenges with Covid-19. He also noted he reviewed all the applications for completeness and found the information provided by all applicants to meet the standards for completeness.

Subsequently, Rex Baker recused himself as a board member for the following matter:

HDC # 2020 -1, Rex and Pam Baker, 3 School Street, Map 32 – Lot 14

The Bakers proposed construction of a loggia, or pergola, in the rear of their property on their existing 10’x16’ deck. The deck predates current ownership and extends off a short shed porch. The intended use of the open structure is for shade and vegetation support. It will be constructed of natural cedar and will attach on one end to the porch soffits, and on the other end will be supported by two tapered posts comparable in design to those on the porch at the General Store. The pergola will not be attached to the garage wall or to the brickwork.

As Historic Harrisville has a covenant on this property, review by HHI was required. Erin Hammerstedt noted that HHI feels the proposal meets the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, largely because there will be no alteration of any historic features, that construction impact is minimal and, in the future, the pergola could be removed with no alteration of the property. There also is minimum visibility to the public. Ms. Hammerstedt stated that HHI, therefore, approves of the proposal as submitted by the Bakers. HHI will forward a certificate of appropriateness, denoting environmental review, as soon as possible.

Kathy Scott emphasized the minimal view of the subject area from the street and agreed the proposal does not interfere with the Standards for Rehabilitation. Doug Walker read through the provisions of these Standards most relevant to the proposal and agreed the impact was minimal. As members had no additional questions for the applicant, Noel Greiner moved to approve the Bakers’ proposal as submitted. Scott Oliver seconded. All voted in favor.

Mr. Baker remained recused for the following:

HDC #2020-2 – Afton Rodriguez, Church Street, Map 32 – Lot 18
The applicant sought approval from the HDC for the construction of a free-standing pine grape arbor, 10’ long x 6’ wide x 7.5’ high.  Ms. Rodriguez noted she had received verbal approval from a previous HDC, but had not had the chance to put it up. She added that, historically, the lot had grape arbors, which had been taken down over the years. This one also is not intended to be permanent. Rex Baker, as abutter, spoke in support.

During further discussion about time limits on approvals in general, Erin Hammerstedt requested that a date or time limit be included to allow for any changes in circumstance or ownership of a parcel, or if a project is not completed in a given time frame. Don Scott suggested offering an application to extend, without applicants’ having to incur additional noticing expenses.  Mr. Walker noted the regulation subcommittee would consider these suggestions.

With no further discussion or questions, Noel Greiner moved to approve Afton Rodriguez’s application as submitted. Kathy Scott seconded. All voted in favor.

Mr. Baker rejoined commission members to hear the following:

HDC # 2020-3, Harrisville Conservation Commission Rain Garden Project at the Harrisville Pond Boat Ramp, Map 32 – Lot 33
Don Scott, representing the Conservation Commission, described the proposed rain garden at the boat ramp as a public project on public property. The goals of the rain garden are to manage stormwater flow and prevent erosion at the boat ramp area, which receives heavy deposits of siltation and heavy, gulley-like flows as water drains from several directions. The Conservation Commission also intends for the rain garden to serve as an educational model for all residents as an effective technique for managing stormwater runoff.

Included in the project design is a pervious parking area, large enough to serve two cars with their boat trailers. The existing impervious parking area will be replaced with gravel of various sizes, two feet deep, so that water running off the pavement will filtrate through the gravel, and remain there prior to slowly entering the pond. A three-foot deep vegetated swale, with 18” of compost, meadow grasses and wetland plantings along the Prospect Street bank south of the boat ramp, will also serve to protect the lake from runoff. A channel drain at the top of the boat ramp will capture any surface water in front of it and redirect it away from the ramp and pond. The Conservation Commission will design and install interpretive signs alongside the boat ramp describing the rain garden and its purpose. The project is presented to the HDC for review because of its location in the historic district and because of the proposed wood railing, which will match the existing railing just south of the boat ramp along Prospect Street.

With no further questions or discussion, Noel Greiner moved to approve the HCC’s application for the Rain Garden as presented. Rex Baker seconded. All voted in favor.

HDC # 2020- 4, Community Church of Harrisville and Chesham, 13 Canal Street, Map 32 – Lot 28

As a representative of the Church’s properties committee, Don Scott presented the application to repair in-kind the side entrance/exit ramp and stairs, the only difference being in the dimension of the railing. The application included numerous photographs depicting the work.

During discussion of procedures for waivers, which allow for applicants to forego a formal board hearing and notification of abutters, and whether or not the Church’s proposal would qualify for a waiver, Doug Walker stated he would like for the HDC to revise its regulations to further clarify what is required for a waiver to be granted. Erin Hammerstedt added concern about the replacement of building materials in the historic district. According to the existing waiver form, building materials replaced in kind may potentially qualify the applicant for such a waiver. Historic Harrisville’s position on replacement is that it is justified only when repair is not feasible. Ms. Hammerstedt would still favor submission of an application.  Attendees asked whether the term waiver should be defined differently.

As there were no further questions, Kathy Scott moved to approve the Community Church’s application as submitted. Noel Greiner seconded. All voted in favor.

New member package
Anne Howe provided Rex Baker with a handbook of HDC-related information, including regulations, rules of procedure, application forms, and meeting minutes of the past twelve months. The board thanked Anne Howe for her work on this.

Inventory project
Erin Hammerstedt informed members she has nearly completed her part of the property inventory project and will submit it to the HDC shortly. She also is taking new photographs.

Separately, Ms. Hammerstedt noted that, on behalf of the Community Church, she is submitting an application to LCHiP (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program) for grant money for a three-part rehabilitation of the Canal Street structure.  The grant would consist of approximately $133,000 to match the church’s contribution of $187,000. The structure requires an upgrade for ADA compliance, moisture and groundwater remediation, and an electrical upgrade in the kitchen area. In addition, preservation work is required for the bell cradle, windows and brickwork.  The HDC noted it is willing to draft a letter in support.

HDC Rules of Procedure – update
Kathy Scott informed members that NHMA cannot review the subcommittee’s draft; this is the domain of town counsel. Members agreed that their own suggested revisions should be sent to Doug Walker by July 15, after which the Chair will incorporate the revisions and redistribute to the group for discussion at the July 22 meeting.

2020-21 Strategic Plan Outline
The Chair shared the draft plan to members for review, and then for discussion next month.

HDC Regulations related to windows and renewable energy sources
Mr. Walker has reviewed Keene’s and Amherst’s regulations, which include provisions on windows and renewable energy features, with the goal of updating the HDC’s rules on these subjects. Members will collaborate with the Planning Board and Ordinance Review Committee on the best way to address anticipated requests for solar arrays in the historic district.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm.