Town of Harrisville
Historic District Commission
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Meeting Minutes

The Historic District Commission held a regularly scheduled meeting and public hearing on Tuesday, November 23, 2021 at town offices, 705 Chesham Road.

Members present: Doug Walker, Noel Greiner, Kathy Scott, Rex Baker, and Anne Howe
Members absent: Scott Oliver
Members of the public: Jon Richardson, Jean Keefe, Kris Keith, Jack Calhoun, Patricia Colony,
Chick Colony, Beth Healy, and Andrea Polizos

Moment of silence
Prior to the start of business, Chairman Doug Walker initiated a moment of silence in honor of Jay C. Jacobs, who passed away on November 18.

Members moved and voted in favor to approve the agenda.

Minutes of previous meeting
Members moved and voted in favor to approve the November 2 meeting minutes as written.

HDC #2021-4, Harrisville Community Church, 13 Canal Street (Map 32 – Lot 28)
Contractor Kris Keith and applicant Patricia Colony presented the church’s proposal to upgrade and relocate an existing access/egress to accommodate handicap access and use of church facilities. They explained that the existing exterior ramp along island Street will be removed and the existing Island Street-side door infilled and brick-faced as part of the construction of an ADA compliant bathroom.

At the rear of Fellowship Hall, a former entrance/egress opening will be infilled with brick and a new opening, centered between the existing window and existing door, will be cut to accommodate a slightly wider door for wheelchair accommodation and a slightly longer exterior wooden ramp. In addition, one of the rear windows, which has never been replaced, will be replaced to match the others windows that previously had been replaced. The existing rear shed that houses the lawn mower and trash will be removed, as will the concrete steps in the rear and on the side of the building.

The proposed exterior modifications, including roof trims, will match the existing materials and design though the new brick will be inset slightly as the exact brick type can’t be matched.  Also, the spacing on the ramp railing will be tighter to be more code-compliant. The ramp will be constructed of pressure-treated wood and will match the existing, but will be ADA compliant in dimension.

HDC members noted that the new location and design won’t be visible from the public view the way the existing ramp and egress facing Island Street are visible. Noel Greiner spoke in favor of the proposal, as did Rex Baker, who stated that moving the ramp will allow for easier snow removal and will open up additional parking for church attendees. Kris Keith pointed out that, from the front of the church, a few feet of the wooden ramp will be visible but that most of it will be hidden. And with the additional hallway space that will be freed up along the side of the building, the church is able to construct an ADA-compliant bathroom where it couldn’t before.

With no questions from abutters and no further questions from the board, Noel Greiner moved to accept the application as submitted. Kathy Scott seconded. All voted in favor to approve.

Proposed HDC Regulations
Continuing with review and public comment on the updated regulations, Doug Walker led the discussion, picking up where the board left off at the first public hearing.

Article V – Relocation and Demolition – Members heard the concern that the HDC may be trying to combine too much in this section. They also responded to a question about how they would treat important accessory and contributing structures, noting they would consider any proposals in terms of a structure’s historical significance to the district. The HDC believes the ongoing inventory project will provide helpful information in this regard to property owners as well as the board.

Article VI – Changes to Existing Structures
While it was understood that the HDC on occasion needs to make certain allowances, Erin Hammerstedt encouraged the board to be precise and to enforce the guidelines.

The question arose as to who defines “economically feasible.” The HDC responded that it needs some flexibility on this, as they can’t say what a homeowner can and can’t afford; applications must be taken on a case by case basis.

Ms. Hammerstedt suggested adding the word ‘physical’ relative to documentary evidence. In terms of the provision related to roofs, Mr. Colony recommended the language “visible from the ground” versus “from the public view.”

Regarding section H. Outdoor Mechanical Equipment, the HDC will contact the Select Board or Building Inspector to confirm what needs to be reviewed.

Article VII – New Construction
Discussion focused on the recommendation that requests to replace previously existing structures should include physical documentation that a previous structure existed.

VIII – Streetscape
The term “natural” to describe “natural materials” was unclear. Perhaps replace “natural” with “traditional.”

The HDC noted that driveways are regulated by other boards or agencies (e.g., the ZBA or DES, or the DOT if they come out onto Main Street).

Attendees encouraged the HDC to return to Section H. Streetlights to elaborate on it to address exterior lighting.

There was some debate over whether or not the HDC should regulate the removal of Mature Trees. The HDC will consider this further.

At Article IX – Fences and Guardrails, discussion stopped and will resume at the HDC’s next meeting. The board then moved to hold its December meeting on Tuesday, December 14, at 7:00 pm due to the holidays, to continue discussion of the proposed regulations. Application for CLG (Certified Local Government) status will also be on the agenda. All voted in favor.

Board membership
Chairman Walker noted the board had received a letter of interest to join the HDC. Following a brief discussion of process, that a recommendation of the HDC would then go to the Select Board, Noel Greiner moved to accept the application. Anne Howe seconded. The motion carried.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 pm.