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HPC Minutes

November 6, 2014

The Historic Preservation Commission met on Thursday, November 6th, at the Dorchester County Library meeting room, 303 Gay, Street, Cambridge, Maryland. Patricia Weichmann, Chair, began the meeting at began the meeting at 7:05PM and took a roll call of members in attendance.

Commissioners Attending: Mike Russo, Ron Berman, Patricia Weichmann and Dormaim Bromwell Green, Sharon Smith.

Other representatives or staff attending: Dan Brandewie, City Planner. Commissioner Jackie Vickers.

Ms. Weichmann reiterated that the purpose of the meeting is to listen to comments from the public regarding the draft HPC Design Guidelines. HPC members will not be discussing the material itself. The deadline for receiving comments has been extended to Nov. 30th.

A question was asked as to how the HPC will move forward after tonight. Ms. Weichmann stated that we do not have a time frame at this point. It would be the goal of the HPC to consider and make changes as appropriate to the document and then forward it on to City Council for their consideration and adoption. Jackie Vickers, City Commissioner, recommended that the HPC consider having at least one additional public meeting on the final draft. The City Council will likely have two public hearings.

Mr. Brandewie also attendees if there was any problems finding the draft guidelines on the City's website. Some members in attendance did note that they have had problems finding the draft material on line or the links weren't working. Mr. Frank Cooke asked if the draft material could be moved to the front page of the City's website.

The following persons in attendance provide comments:

Marti Tomey: Her property is in two zoning designations, PWCD and the Historic District overlay zoning which is confusing. Historic properties need continuous work. She is pleased to see that four homes on High Street are being converted back from multi-family to single family and would hate to see new regulations that would discourage or stop that trend. She believed that this ordinance is overkill and is too restrictive. She noted that they have installed white vinyl windows in their house and it has made a huge difference. She encourages the HPC to consider how the document will impact people wanting to buy houses in the Historic District and to work with homeowners.
Bill Mathews, 502 Academy Street: He is opposed to the installation of vinyl siding and vinyl windows. They don't belong on historic properties and take away from their value.

Dave Thatcher: He just visited Eastport and they have flexibility to the point of allowing a house to be taken down as long a one wall remained with the new house design. He encouraged efforts to make the draft guidelines more flexible.

Frank Cooke, 303 Mill Street: Get rid of the editorials. Be flexible. In many cases you can't tell the difference between replacement windows and original windows. Pay attention to the most important components of the house. The language on use of materials is quite strict and would imply that I would have to put something back that is not there now, just because it was original. He cited examples with roofing material on sheds (corrugated metal). He stated that the section on Ornamental Metal be reviewed as it is costly to restore metal given the labor costs. Delete out any references to regulating paint color. In many cases, homes have original wood shingles. The Guidelines are confusing in that they would suggest that wood roofing material would have to be reinstalled. He recommended that the HPC develop a lists of materials (such as with replacement materials) that would be acceptable; and to list contractors that can do work in the Historic District. He commented on "awnings" as an example where the HPC shouldn't require someone to install an awning, or put one back on a building. He noted that Chapter 11 on Demolition be reviewed. The language would suggest that as a condition to tear something down, plans for a replacement structure would have to be submitted. There are many cases where sheds have to be removed and it would be unrealistic to expect that these sheds would have to be replaced. He is concerned also about the strictness of the guidelines and that this could lead to more situations of demolition by neglect. There is a lack of mechanism now in dealing with this problem, with houses that are sitting empty; the property owner has walked away from them, the bank refuses to foreclose and take responsibility or the county owns them and will do no work on them. Strict guidelines will not help this situation.

Steve Delsordo, 305 Oakley Street: Provided his background as a resident and historic preservation planner working at the federal level. He was one of the original advocates in getting the historic designation for Cambridge. He stated that the Guidelines are too strict and not appropriate for Cambridge. He stated further that when the original Guidelines were adopted, there was an understanding and language to the effect that there was to be flexibility in allowing vinyl siding. He noted that at the federal level, artificial siding can be acceptable. There are problems with mold when dealing with wood siding. Whether it is covered up or insulated properly may aggravate or contribute to moisture problems. He advocated that the Guidelines and the City's website show or provide training on how to deal with wood siding problems, their repair and maintenance. Within Chapter 4, the language was confusing on how to deal with roofing materials. The draft language appears to suggest that original wood shingles would have to be reinstalled. The language on gutters needs to be reviewed; it is not practical to require the installation of round gutters. He objected to using the language "must do". More citations are needed. More information on lead paint problems is needed. It is not appropriate to regulate the placement of AC conditioners in front façade windows. To require photographs and cost estimates for repairs is too burdensome. Artificial materials for shutters may be appropriate in some cases-the current language would prevent their use. Full glass storm doors are not recommended for historic properties but would be allowed as shown by the picture in the Guidelines. You should consider yourself as "managers" not "regulators". The HPC Guidelines are contradictory in that they allow replacement materials on porches but disallow replacement materials in other applications. He suggested looking at the landscaping section. There are specimen trees in the district now. On the chapter addressing Archaeology, he suggested revising this. It is not appropriate to have a standard of 50 sq. ft. This would suggest that someone replacing a sidewalk would have to do an archaeological assessment. He recommended that the Commission consider applying for CLGS funds to do an assessment of sheds in the District. These structures are an important part of the fabric of the district and should be documented and photographed.

Bob Kammer: Lived here 12 years. He spoke in favor of allowing for vinyl replacement windows. He was concerned about the arbitrariness and cost implications for property owners and about the number of derelict houses in the District. Disallowing replacement windows due to energy efficiency is not logical. His replacement windows are attractive and energy efficient. The Guidelines need to encourage not discourage investment.

Rich Hines: 114 Vue De Leau: He requested that the deadline for receiving comments be extended. He thought the document to massive. He stated that painting wood siding is not practical and that no paint can last more than 8 years. The cost and clean-up of dealing with lead base paint when re-painting a house cleanup is prohibitive. He believed the Guidelines were too onerous with too many rules.

Hearing no further comments, Patricia Weichmann, Chair thanked everyone for attending and for their participation.

Meeting adjourned at approximately 8:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel L. Brandewie, City Planner II


Signature: Patricia Weichmann, Chair_____________________________________ Date: _____________2014.