Historic District Commission
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Meeting Minutes

The Historic District Commission held a public hearing on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 at town offices, 705 Chesham Road, and via zoom.

Members present: Doug Walker, Noel Greiner, Scott Oliver, Noel Greiner, Kathy Scott Anne Howe, Rex Baker
Members of the public: Erin Hammerstedt, Linda and Rich Taylor, Jack Calhoun, Beth Healy Barry and Katy Heiniluoma, Les LaMois, Andrea Hodson

Chairman Doug Walker opened the meeting at 7:04 pm.

Members voted unanimously in favor to approve the agenda

Minutes of previous meeting 9/22
Members voted unanimously in favor to approve the minutes September 22 as written.

Mr. Walker then opened the public hearing on the following matter:

HDC #2020-7, Erin Hammerstedt, 15 Main Street (Map 61 – Lot 3)
Erin Hammerstedt, as agent and purchaser of the Heiniluoma property, known historically as the Hale House and operated for many years as the Monadnock Hotel, reviewed for the board the many elements of her application to rehabilitate the historic property. She described her goal of a holistic rehabilitation, aiming to change as little as possible while updating the home for modern use for herself and her family. She has selected Tom Tolman of Tolman Builders as the contractor.

The elements of the application, discussed item by item with the board, are as follows:

Demolition and disposal of the existing detached 2-car garage
Based on input from the Code Enforcement Officer and contractor, Ms. Hammerstedt requests permission of the HDC to demolish the existing detached two car garage, as it is deemed a safety hazard, but to retain the footprint for the opportunity to potentially re-build at a future date, returning to the HDC for appropriate review. The structure is not original to the property and is estimated to have been built in the 1950s or 1960s. Ms. Hammerstedt noted the possibility of stabilizing the structure, as opposed to complete removal, in order to buy some time and in light of neighbor Jack Calhoun’s input regarding the structure’s effectiveness as a screen for privacy, while acknowledging the importance of safety. Emphasizing he does not want to intervene in the regulatory process, Mr. Calhoun requested forebearance from immediate removal if another solution could be identified.

Roof and Dormers
The home currently has a slate roof, which is in poor condition and has been partially tarped for years, resulting in interior leaking. To replace the slate roof with slate is extremely expensive and not economically feasible for the applicant at this time. Given that the roof requires immediate replacement, Ms. Hammerstedt asked what the HDC would approve. Options include a shingle roof that approximates the appearance of wood, possibly used in the home’s history and common to this style of home, but Ms. Hammerstedt is unsure. She also is researching a solar roof, where the roofing units themselves serve as solar panels. Research on the solar option is in the early stages.

HDC members discussed recent precedence in the district for transition from slate to alternative materials, but there was little confirmed, other than replacement of asphalt to rubberized slate. It was noted that the HDC would have to rely on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and consider any specific proposal on the merits. It also was noted that the slate roof is a character-defining feature and, thus, in the event replacement is necessary, new material should match the material being replaced in composition, design, color, texture and other visual qualities. Ms. Hammerstedt noted she would request permission to replace the slate with a dissimilar but satisfiable solution for the circumstances.

Members agreed that applicants should not be required to replace extremely expensive and hard to source material, such as slate, though slate is noted for its longevity and historic appearance. Members and the applicant further discussed cost and appearance of alternative materials, including wood shingles, faux slate, asphalt and solar. The applicant will continue to research and get back to the board as soon as possible with a specific request. Her priority is to get a roof on to protect the house. The dormers also will be addressed when a proposal for the roof is presented.

New porch decking, installation of missing porch brackets, addition of stairs to the front porch and door, and modification of the second-story porch railing to satisfy code
Also a character-defining feature, the porch requires new decking, which may be a replacement in kind, if not with a similar material. The property owner noted that the lower deck is not original, but that they replaced it shortly after purchasing the property. The second floor decking is original, however.

Ms. Hammerstedt noted that, on the porch post brackets, the owner had these made to match those on the side porch, but hadn’t installed them; she will do so. A historic photo submitted with her application depicts wooden stairs off the front porch, near the front door, along the third and fourth porch bays; Ms. Hammerstedt requests to recreate these.

Another building code requirement is to bring the second story porch railing to a height of 36”. The existing height is 26”, with spindles connecting directly to the porch floor. Ms. Hammerstedt hopes to add a bottom rail no more than 4” off the porch floor and to install new rectangular spindles, slightly larger in dimension. Her concern, and the board agreed, is that raising the railing height in that space another 10”, to the required 36”, will alter the historic architectural proportions of the house, particularly the relationship to the wing walls. The board wondered if any relief, possibly to 34”, on this building code requirement is allowed for historic rehabilitation purposes. Kathy Scott will explore this and the applicant will seek the input of the Building Inspector. The board noted it is comfortable with a 34” height if the building inspector approves. The applicant confirmed that the spacing of the spindles works and wouldn’t require any alteration.

Beginning with the upstairs windows facing Harrisville Pond, Ms. Hammerstedt was informed that they do not meet code for fire egress. Though the height of the sill and top of window do not need altering, the opening is not large enough. She noted they can be configured to be easily opened and that she can replace the sash but, if the windows need to be completely replaced, she hopes to put two windows in each to expand the water view. As these are located in the rear of the property, HDC members stated they would not object to six-over-six double-hung casement windows.

Also on the barn’s north elevation, Ms. Hammerstedt proposes to replace the one existing window configuration that differs from the others with a true divided light wood six-over-six window.

For the barn’s west elevation, the applicant proposes two window alterations: the first is to create a new opening to allow light and provide a view from what will be the primary living space and where currently there are no windows. She plans to use the two small double hung windows to be removed from the 2nd story rear and to install them as an adjacent pair; second, Ms. Hammerstedt proposes an additional window for light, in not yet determined location, size or configuration.

Also for the barn’s west elevation, the applicant proposes to install a wooden stairway with a handrail, given the height of the existing door, to provide access/egress for the historic wood 4-panel door. The board expressed no concerns over these proposals.

Following completion of the presentation of the application elements, on the question of demolition of the detached garage, Rex Baker moved to allow for the demolition of the existing detached structure, not original to the building, for safety reasons. Noel Greiner seconded. Members voted unanimously in favor.

Ms. Hammerstedt confirmed she will return to the board with more information on the roof and dormers, the 2nd story porch balusters and choice of windows on the lake side of the house. Upon notification by the board that regulations require an applicant’s agreement to extend the 45 day review timetable, Ms. Hammerstedt confirmed that she agreed to extend it.

The Chair noted that the next meeting of the board is Tuesday, November 22, 2020. Mr. Walker then closed the public hearing on 15 Main Street and moved on to a final administrative matter.

Regulation revision
Mr. Walker noted that the regulations subcommittee met twice to evaluate the Amherst and Keene historic district regulations for adaptation for Harrisville. The subcommittee will meet on again on November 17, from 2-4 pm.

As there was no further business, members moved to adjourn at 8:25 pm.