HPC Meeting Minutes
January 19, 2012
The Historic Preservation Commission met on Thursday, January 19, 2012 at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street. Chair Kathy Manicke called the meeting to order at approximately 7:03 p.m. Ms. Manicke began the meeting by taking roll call.
Commissioners Attending: Kathy Manicke, Chair; Brian Roche, Vice Chair; Farrell McCoy (arrived at 7:12 p.m.); Dormaine Green; Katie Clendaniel
Absent: Jay Corvan was not present
Other Representatives Attending: Dan Brandewie, City Planner II
Ms. Manicke presented the opening statement.
Oath Administered-Persons Wishing to Testify: Kathy Manicke administered the oath to all persons wishing to testify.
Approval of Minutes -December 15, 2011: Ms. Green moved to approve the minutes. Mr. Roche seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
HPC#30-12, 112 High Street, Jim and Marianne Benson, homeowners, request replacement of storm windows at various locations to match existing ones. Existing windows will remain.
Mr. Brandewie said the homeowners are not present tonight. Since this is a minor improvement, he recommends this be put on the consent agenda. He clarified that the window screening would be black versus aluminum so that they match the existing ones.
Mr. Roche moved to approve the consent agenda item because it adheres to the storm window guidelines. Ms. Clendaniel seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Regular Agenda Item
HPC#22-12, (amendment 1) 310 Glenburn Avenue, homeowner Donald Gray requests replacement of existing deteriorated wood shutters with vinyl cottage style shutters.
Mr. Brandewie said the windows are approximately 53 inches tall by 44 inches wide. Mr. Gray is requesting 18 inch cottage style shutters in width. Originally they wanted to use shutters at the bottom by the bay window, but they dropped that idea and do not want to pursue it. There will be seven windows with shutters on the front and side; no shutters on the back.
Mr. Gray said the 18 inch shutters are a special order item; the 22 inch shutters are not available. The existing shutters are beyond repair.
Mr. Brandewie and Ms. Manicke agree the existing shutters are over-sized and do not match the window opening. They may be original to the house, but are not a good fit to the house.
A question was raised if the shutters could be custom clad to each opening, mounted on hardware and not to the building or casing of the window frame. Mr. Brandewie said it is highly recommended not to drill into the brick when mounting the shutters. Mr. Gray noted that some holes were drilled into the brick previously but they would take care to put any new screws into the existing mortar joints.
Ms. McCoy moved to close the discussion. Mr. Roche seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Roche moved to approve the application to replace the shutters. The applicant testified the shutters are beyond repair. Staff testified they were not working shutters. They are to mount the shutters in existing mortar and not in the brick. The guidelines say the shutters may be wood, vinyl and composition, but mostly the style should be geared to the building. The shutters are probably ornamental and not original. Ms. McCoy seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Brandewie said he will get the COA (Certificate of Appropriateness) out by January 23rd. He asked to be contacted for follow-up.
HPC # 2-12, (amendment 2), 211 Oakley Street, Shawn and Laura Ridgely homeowners, request replacement of five (5) attic dormer windows; install composite Hardiplank siding on remaining sides of house; install composite trim details around windows and corners to mimic existing profiles, install perforated soffit vents on house; install black slate shingles in interior front face of small front porch gable extension.
Mr. Brandewie said the Staff discovered the contractor was installing siding on the remainder of the house and it was not approved in the original COA; the Hardiplank siding with wood grain finish was approved for the rear addition that was re-designed. He asked the homeowners to stop work until the issue was resolved. As part of that work the homeowners would be installing Azek composite material as trim around the corners of the house and trim around the windows and trying to match the details of the trim and seals on the windows as best as possible. It is the homeowners' intent to install a perforated soffit around the rest of the house along with the remaining wood siding. The soffit is a composite material also.
Mr. Branden Spear stated this house looks great with all of the work the homeowners have done. He said this is a good example to go by in what it cost to restore these old houses. He said he would be surprised if it cost less than $300,000.00 to do the work the homeowners have done.
Ms. Manicke asked the Commission if they have any comments; they did not. She asked if any one in the audience has a comment; they did not.
Mr. Roche moved to close the discussion. Ms. Clendaniel seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Clendaniel wanted to discuss the wood grain siding profile. Ms. Manicke said since portions of the house have been done with the wood grain they should go ahead and do the rest of the house. In the future, the Commission needs to specify when they allow people to use Hardi composite board that is a smooth finish. The back of the house clearly had to be re-done.
Mr. Roche moved to approve the application as submitted. Ms. McCoy seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
HPC # 31-12, 121 West End Avenue, Frances Boyle homeowner, requests removal of existing shed and installation of new 8' by 8' vinyl shed in rear yard area (after the fact installation).
Mr. Brandewie said he is representing Ms. Boyle. She could not be here because she is on a mission trip to Africa. She works with a non-profit doing charity work. She did not know she needed a COA to replace the shed. When she was contacted she agreed to apply. Staff's only comment is to consider shifting the shed to the far right as one is facing the house if possible.
George Fox commented that it probably looks better than what they replaced.
Some Commission members did not think it necessary that the shed should be moved. No one else spoke in favor or against the application. The Commission closed the matter for discussion.
Mr. Roche moved to approve the application for shed replacement as submitted. Ms. McCoy seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
HPC#32-12, 100 Glenburn Avenue, Geoffrey and Nancy Barger homeowners (filed by B.A.S. Construction) request replacement of twenty (25) existing windows with vinyl replacement windows, grid patterns and openings to match.
Branden Spear of B.A.S. Construction, 805 Locust Street, Cambridge, Maryland, is here on behalf of Geoffrey and Nancy Barger. They will be replacing the existing windows in the house with standard vinyl replacement windows like many houses in the neighborhood. They are not going to be touching the windows on the side porch that are fairly new. There will be 21 windows; they are going to be double hung vinyl windows with 6 over 6 grills and screens. There will be 3 single casement windows with 6 lights that will be replaced; no windows will be replaced in the sunroom, gables, side porch. The first floor windows in the rear have already been replaced. Every thing is going to be replaced just like what is there.
Mr. Brandewie requested of the Chair, Ms. Manicke, to clarify Mr. Spear's statement that the replacement windows are going to match the existing windows. His replacement window is vinyl, it is not wood. His grids are different from the existing grids; they may not be exterior grids. Questions that come up on window replacements include: do the grids match the pattern whether they are inside, outside or in between the panes. What style of grid is it; is it a very flat grid or does it have a molding to it which can add some detail. The depth of the window as it is inset could be a consideration to ask that it match because of the shadow that it can provide. Are the stills and muntins the same size and dimension?
Mr. Spear said the major reason for replacement windows is the house is falling down because it is sitting on an old landfill. On the southwest end of the house one can see where it has fallen down considerably. There are areas where the house has fallen severely and there are holes where air is coming in. The whole house is very drafty. Supposedly the structural issues have been repaired and it is sound now, but the brick is still falling and the windows are still falling. They need to modify the frame to make it level to fit the windows. The floors are level. The reason he is replacing the windows is some of the original windows are beyond repair.
Mr. Roche said Mr. Spear should be replacing wooden windows with wooden windows as noted in the guidelines. Mr. Spear asked does he tell his customer that he has to spend $795.00 to $1000.00 per window. Ms. McCoy said yes, for the two windows that need work. Mr. Roche said the Commission is bound by federal and local guidelines. Mr. Spear said we are bound by our rules; this is our town.
Mr. Roche said the true profile of the window is better mimicked with actual wood through divided light window. The failure rate of a vinyl window is much quicker than a wooden window. Mr. Spear said yes by 15 years. Mr. Roche said if a person wants to do a good job and is structurally fixing the house, they are correcting the problem; a good window is worthwhile.
Mr. Spear asked how the Commission can deny the vinyl windows when he has changed 30+ windows in the neighborhood. He said there are bigger issues to talk about than the windows.
Ms. Manicke asked if the audience had any comments. There was no comment.
Ms. McCoy moved to close the discussion. Ms. Clendaniel seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Brandewie said one alternative could be to see if the Commission could present some alternatives back to a subcommittee appointed by the Commission to see if there are other alternatives that may be more suitable. It is very hard to tell what exactly these windows look like by these photo copies in the application. They don't know what the grid pattern looks like, they don't know what the true shape of the styles and dimensions are. If it is the Commission's desire that they are willing to look at other alternatives, perhaps some alternatives could be brought back to look at. Ms. Clendaniel said they could look at alternatives; that is not the issue. Ms. Manicke said she would be willing to serve on a subcommittee.
Mr. Roche pointed out that if there is a wood window in a window that is beyond repair, a wood window is what should be put back and it should match as near as possible - not simulated, not vinyl and that is for very good reasons. It is just not the same.
Mr. Spear said the homeowner has heating bills that are "through the roof".
Mr. Roche said they have been given recent guidance that many applicants seek to replace historic windows in order to make their buildings more energy efficient. It is important to remember the following facts: only an estimated 12-15% of energy loss is through windows and that assumes they are in disrepair. Most energy loss is due to heat and cold infiltration of seals not through the glass. Historic windows in good repair have the same or increased thermal efficiency. Historic wood windows have proven performance of 60-100 years. In addition, if energy efficiency is the problem that can be overcome by repair and enhancement, restoring the proper fit between the sash and frame, repairing broken windows, installing sash locks, weather stripping and adding exterior or interior storm windows. The Department of Interior tells the Commission this and that is what they are tasked to solve as a problem. As a contractor Mr. Spear could repair the windows so they are here for another 60-100 years. The Commission is not disagreeing with Mr. Spear. Over the last 10 years since these simulated divided light windows have come out they know those types of windows are not the best way to solve the problem. The Commission acts on information they have now not on what Lowes tells us.
Ms. Clendaniel said she is in agreement with a subcommittee to deal with these issues.
Ms. McCoy moved to appoint a subcommittee consisting of a chair and Katie Clendaniel to review alternatives to these vinyl windows with the contractor and the owner as soon as possible and a subcommittee to authorize final approval on what goes forward with these windows. Ms. Clendaniel seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
HPC#33-12, 906 Locust Street, homeowner Greg Strong, filed by contractor Grady Wilson requests window replacement of 1st and 2nd story with vinyl 2 over 2 replacement windows.
Grady Wilson, 1432 Hip Roof Road, Church Creek, Maryland, said he wants to thank Dan Brandewie for making this process so much easier. Before that he has been before the Commission several times, but Mr. Brandewie makes it a lot easier.
Mr. Wilson reminded the HPC members that the City Council appointed 5 different contractors, one for each council member last year. One of the main problems with the City of Cambridge was to open the City up to newcomers and make it friendlier for people to do business in Cambridge. One of the biggest problems was the Historic District and he thought they got it straight making suggestions. Vinyl windows in the past practice have never been denied unless it was a strained situation. This house on Locust Street has surrounding houses with vinyl windows. His point is in the City there is a neighborhood compatibility study that one has to abide by. Ms. Clendaniel said his concerns are well noted. They will cite specific sections in the guidelines that refer to his application and work from there.
Ms. McCoy said this is a beautiful authentic house and to cover it with plastic or put any plastic on the walls really cheapens it. She told Mr. Wilson he could be an ambassador in the community as a contractor advising people not to cheapen the value of their house by covering it with plastic or removing original elements and replacing it with plastic. This is a fabulous house.
Mr. Wilson said when faced with a project where one can spend $400.00 on a window compared to $1200 that is a major decision. With 25 windows to do, that is a big expense. The windows are being replaced because of lead paint issues; that is the major issue. It is a rental house.
Mr. Roche said there is a way to deal with lead paint in a manner that is not an issue. Mr. Wilson said by putting vinyl windows in is abating the process of having lead paint.
Mr. Roche said from the business friendly standpoint, the Commission approaches it according to the guidelines. There is a preference for repair instead of replacement. In the event they are inoperable and should be replaced, they should be replaced with a true divided light wood window. If lead paint is an issue, the answer is that one could come back suggesting replacement with a true replacement of the same type of material, a double hung the same style.
Mr. Wilson said he did not know who was going to pay the cost, but the Commission is running the show. Mr. Roche said if 25 windows need replacing, it is a worthy consideration. Mr. Wilson said if one has a house and its value is $145,000.00 and one wants to put another $40,000.00 into it; that is not a very good idea.
Mr. Roche wants to repeat that the Commission's guidelines specifically say - past Commissions, this Commission, nothing ever sets a precedent. They have to look at each case as it stands. No decision made sets a precedent.
Ms. Manicke said the guidelines are very specific about this - if no doors and windows are required, the new units should match the original in design, dimension and material.
Ms. McCoy moved to close the discussion. Mr. Roche seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Mr. Brandewie asked Ms. Manicke if she wants to consider setting up a subcommittee to give this applicant the same opportunity the previous applicant has to present alternatives back to a committee to see if it is a reasonable match. Ms. McCoy thinks that somebody with a good understanding of these issues needs to meet with the owner and explain the guidelines. Mr. Roche said the other applicant was replacing windows because the windows were in disrepair. This applicant is simply trying to replace the windows for what seem to be irreconcilable lead issues. It is a different case.
Mr. Brandewie said if the applicant gets denied for his application, it doesn't mean he can't come back and present an alternative window.
Ms. Clendaniel told Mr. Wilson that she could connect him with some other people who have houses in historic districts much stricter than they are. They rent the houses and they have to deal with lead abatements. She knows it is easier to just replace the window, but in this district it is a defined area and it is different. It ends up adding value to the house.
Ms. McCoy moved to approve the application as submitted. Mr. Roche seconded the motion. Vote was five (5) against on no (0) votes in favor of the motion. Motion does not carry.
HPC#35-11, (amendment 1), 321 High Street, property owner Dorchester Center for the Arts (DCA), Timothy F. Crosby, AIA, applicant, to construct partial improvements and temporary vinyl siding over side and rear entrance over existing one story rear building addition for access to proposed interior banquet facility. Request to amend COA for revised construction plans.
Mr. Brandewie said he and two of the HPC members met on site tonight and met Ms. Mickey Love, the Director of the DCA. She gave them a tour of the facility. Earlier this week he e-mailed the Commission five pdf drawings of the proposed addition, but is passing around one of them plus an additional picture he took last year to show the two different alternatives. He has a letter from Mr. George Fox explaining the circumstances of the project.
George Fox, President of the Board for the DCA, said one year ago the Board approved the total project of renovation/restoration of the second floor of the DCA. The DCA has had the availability of this building for more than 9 years and still has not gotten the right to use the second floor. The total project is in the million dollar range. He is asking permission to do less than what they promised with the idea they are ultimately going to do it as they get money.
Tim Crosby, Crosby & Associates Architects, 507 Court Lane, Cambridge, Maryland explained what he is proposing to do. For the record, Mr. Roche asked Mr. Crosby if the construction and removal will damage the original integrity of the building so the building is not being altered to the point where it is not easily reversed. Mr. Crosby said there is nothing in his proposal that would hinder the approved design. Mr. Crosby said when he did the original project that was approved by the HPC one year ago it was done consistent with the guidelines. This construction will follow that exact same thing. There will be no negative effect. No one else spoke in favor or against the application.
Ms. McCoy moved to close the discussion. Mr. Roche seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Ms. Clendaniel moved to approve the application as submitted with the caveat that this will be a temporary addition and that they will receive annual reports from the DCA as to the status of fundraising and the permanent addition. Ms. McCoy seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Inactive Docket/Continuation Cases
HPC#29-12 400-402 Race Street, Ed Maloney, owner of the corner building next to Leaky Pete's. Mr. Brandewie wanted to update this application. Mr. Maloney was intending to come back and re-visit the idea of the vinyl siding. He met with Mr. Maloney last week. He removed the plaster lapboard on the inside and revealed it is wood siding on the exterior. That was a surprise because it was thought to be all brick around the entire structure. Mr. Maloney's intent is to come back and ask for re-consideration of the vinyl siding. The wood siding is likely damaged by all of the other materials put on top of it. They could not see the exterior of it, but the wood was very damp. With even the asbestos siding, it was literally soaked.
Administratively Approved/Routine Maintenance
Mr. Brandewie asked if there were any questions on administratively approved or routine maintenance items. There were none.
Mr. Brandewie stated he received an e-mail from Karen Theimer Brown with the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions explaining they have new training material available. He sent those links to the Commission and is asking them to review it. Ms. Brown is asking for a commitment that Cambridge would like to host a multi-community training session. She is suggesting April, May or possibly the first week of June on a Saturday. The P&Z Department has offered to host it. Does the Commission want to give the P&Z Department a date and then Mr. Brandewie will e-mail Ms. Brown back. The Commission tentatively set April 21st. Another choice is to host a "design review" or ethics training. The Commission said design review training. The third request is does anyone want to be a certified trainer? Ms. Clendaniel and Ms. McCoy said they would be interested in the training course.
Enforcement Update Mr. Brandewie said they had success in getting two satellite dishes down- one on Locust Street, the green house at the corner of Locust and Oakley, another one on Choptank at the corner of Choptank and Travers, across from the convenience store and another one on 10 West End. He wrote a letter to the Glenburn Ave. property owner who has fake bricks on the foundation.
Katie Clendaniel asked about a property at 117 Vue de Leau. No one is living here; the original shutters are dropping off during storms, but it can still be repaired. The porch flooring is starting to rot. If it is let go, it will be a critical issue. Mr. Brandewie said he would separate the two issues from a minor repair issue versus a major demolition by neglect type of situation. In the guidelines they recommend that one document well the demolition by neglect situation by photographs over time and document the exact nature of the deterioration. He thinks it is appropriate for the Commission to send an e-mail to him or the property code enforcement officers about minor deterioration situations. He thinks they should go out and do inventory on it and see what the problems are. For demolition by neglect, Mr. Brandewie thinks it would take a formal motion by the Commission, a letter drafted up by the chair and then it goes to the Department of Public Works (DPW). Mr. Brandewie suggested a subcommittee be appointed to assist him with this. Ms. Clendaniel and Ms. Manicke agreed to be on it. Mr. Brandewie asked for a report at the next meeting.
Discussion of Guidelines - schedule-appointment of subcommittee
Mr. Brandewie asked how the HPC wants to get back on track. Ms. Clendaniel thinks they need to have a workshop in between meeting dates; they need to set up a 2 hour workshop and agree on a time; she thinks they should form a subcommittee and go through and review what Mr. Brandewie has done, add any sort of additions or changes they would like to make and then Commission presents to the group. Ms. Manicke and Ms. Clendaniel agree to do it.
Mr. Brandewie said perhaps after that part is done, the HPC may want to call upon citizen volunteers to preview the material prior to final action.
Mr. Brandewie said concerning the windows, Mr. Roche's video web link is a very excellent resource about what to look for in window replacements when faced with that issue. One suggestion is prior to these applications coming to the Board they have a subcommittee, maybe a standing subcommittee that goes on site and does a very detailed and thorough inspection of the situation.
Mr. Roche suggested to Mr. Brandewie that when applicants come in with window replacement issues that he give them the section of the guidelines and the literature they just got because it is very concise and it is a very compelling argument. We are finding out that the vinyl replacement windows are failing, they are not suitable replacements, they are not holding up over time and they are making a bad decision to allow this. He asked Mr. Brandewie if he could give an applicant a section regarding their application; this is what the Commission goes by.
Mr. Brandewie noted that literature can be provided. He would encourage a standing subcommittee to accompany him to these sites before the meeting to verify what the window condition is; and if they have alternatives to look how well they match up to the details on the windows.
Mr. Roche said he would like to be on that committee because after reading from an environmental standpoint, from a longevity standpoint, this handout has completely changed his mind. He would not put a vinyl window in a rear shed at this point.
Mr. Brandewie thinks in Mr. Spear's situation the subcommittee needs to go to the house site and thoroughly review the windows. The subcommittee members are Ms. Manicke and Ms. Clendaniel.
Mr. Brandewie discussed a time to look at the windows and they agreed to go at 4:30 p.m. on January 20th unless they hear differently. He will not go there until he has the property owner's permission.
Ms. McCoy said the Commission is very impressed with the number of cases that the HPC processes as provided from Mr. Brandewie sent them for a PowerPoint presentation for Historic Cambridge, Inc. They did not get them soon enough to put them into the powerpoint presentation, but it is clear that it is astonishing the amount of investment that is going on here when applicants are putting in $300,000.00 in his house. Since the City is under so much pressure to be business friendly, she thinks they need to tell the story that the investment at the height of the recession is happening here.
Mr. Brandewie wants to research to track levels of re-investment, building permits, etc. over the course of 4 or 5 years, where is it going into the City, how is it going in proportion to the historic district versus other neighborhoods.
Mr. Roche said he wants them to send it to the Council soon. He wants the Commission to demonstrate they are making good decisions. It would be helpful if he could get a list of all of the building permits for the entire year from the building inspection department with their address. Mr. Roche agreed to help with this. He thinks it is very important for the Commission to prove the district is worth preserving. He wants to know if he has the authority to send some numbers with a summary to the City Council to show the types of investment that is going on in the historic district so they see a positive thing and to do this as soon as possible. The Commission said they will authorize Mr. Roche to transmit the numbers to them. Mr. Roche said he will send them to the Commission.
Ms. McCoy said she will send out to the Commission an annual report for January through December of 2011 and she would like to see this every year. She will give the Commission an outline of what will be in the annual report.
Mr. Brandewie said he would like to have an award ceremony recognizing people who have made positive contributions.
Ms. McCoy moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:14 p.m. Ms. Clendaniel seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
Daniel L. Brandewie
City Planner II