• City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland
  • City of Cambridge Maryland

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Hpc Meeting Minutes

December 20, 2012

The Historic Preservation Commission met on Thursday, December 20th, 2012 at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street.  Kathy Manicke chaired the meeting and called the meeting to order at approximately 7:00 p.m.  She began the meeting by taking roll call.

Commissioners Attending: Kathy Manicke, Chair; Brian Roche, Vice-Chair; Farrell McCoy; Dormaim Bromwell Green, Will Dennehy & Katie Clendaniel.

Other Representatives or Staff Attending: Dan Brandewie, City Planner II, Odie Wheeler & Rob Collison.

Kathy Manicke presented the opening statement and conducted a roll call of those members present.

Oath Administered-Persons Wishing to Testify: Kathy Manicke reviewed protocol for the meeting and administered the oath to all persons wishing to testify.

Approval of Minutes: September 20th, November 15th (unfinished), December 8th, (Special Called Meeting-unfinished).

Brian Roche moved to approve the minutes of the September 20th, 2012 meeting, seconded by Farrell McCoy.  Motion carried.

Ms. Manicke noted there were no items on the Consent Agenda.  She would like to make one agenda change and move Case No. 21-13, for 3 Choptank Avenue up on the agenda due to the possibility of a lengthy discussion on Case No. 24-13.  There were no objections to the agenda changes.


Regular Agenda Items

HPC#22-13, 603 Williams St. Tony Thomas, (owner), Tiger Roofing, (applicant), to replace existing 3 tab shingles with architectural shingles on house.  Mr. Brandewie noted that that this application is to remove deteriorated 3 tab shingles on the main body of the house and replace them with dimensional shingles.  According to the contractor, there are multiple layers on the house.  It was noted that the HPC has approved dimensional shingles in the past but has discouraged high shadow shingles.  There was no one in attendance to speak on behalf of the application.  No one spoke in opposition to the application.  The HPC acted to close the discussion.  It was noted by staff there would be no ridge or roof vents.

Mr. Dennehy made a motion to approve the application as submitted; seconded by Dormaim Bromwell Green.  Motion carried.


HPC#23-12, 209 High St., Oliver Gore, et al (owner), Mark Oberender (applicant), to replace existing 3 tab shingles with architectural shingles on house.  Mr. Brandewie noted that this is a nearly identical application to the previous one.  Mark Oberender presented a sample of the shingle product to the Committee.  He confirmed there would be no ridge vents or gutter work involved.  There was no one else to speak on the application and the HPC acted to close the discussion.

Farrell McCoy moved to approve the application as submitted; seconded by Dormaim Bromwell Green.  Motion carried.

HPC#21-13,  3 Choptank Ave., Allen Shinn (owner), Glen Ruark (applicant-contractor)-front porch modifications-enclosure for room addition, enlargement of existing garage, two window and two door modifications/replacement (revised plan submitted).  Mr. Brandewie noted that the contractor has indicated that they are dropping plans to remodel the front porch addition.  The only part of the application before you is to approve two replacement windows on side of the house next to the chimney where two replacement doors had been previously installed.  Mr. Ryan Heckler noted that the owner has changed his mind on the front porch.  They seek only to replace the existing two doors next to the chimney on the side of the house fronting the water.  He would like to build bookcases underneath the windows.  The windows have been selected to be consistent with the windows on the front of the house.  They would be double hung windows but would be shorter.  The owner has confirmed he is dropping the request to remodel the front addition.  There was no one from the public to speak in support or against the application.  The HPC acted to close the discussion.  Brian Roche noted that the replacement windows would serve to restore somewhat the appearance of the existing windows that had already been replaced and it is a reasonable compromise for an area that is not within the primary view of the property from the street.

Katie Clendaniel moved that the amendment to the revised application be approved as submitted with the subtraction of the front porch addition and to approve the replacement windows as a substitute for two existing doors on the water side of the house.  Brian Roche seconded the motion.  Motion carried.

HPC#24-12, 507 Race St., Easy Rentals LLC, Cleveland Rippons (owner), request to demolish structure due to extensive fire damage and significant safety hazards to public. (Emergency Request).

Mr. Brandewie stated that a fire occurred on December 16th, Sunday night at 507 Race Street.  Due to the substantial damage to this structure and significant safety concerns, MDIA, the private building inspection service hired by the City issued a Demolition Order on the property Monday.  Parts of the building, especially with the parapet wall on the front are in danger of collapse.  Buildings that are candidates for demolition within the Historic District fall within the jurisdiction of the HPC.  Therefore, it was recommended staff add this to the agenda for HPC consideration.  Staff considered calling a Special Called meeting but given the proximity of the regular meeting date, it was recommended that we contact the Chair to add this to the agenda as authorized by the By-laws.  She concurred with this request.  Staff acknowledges that the public notice has not been posted 7 days in advance of the meeting or published in the paper. (Staff has posted the property and put the notice of the application on the City's website, at City Council Chambers, as well as distributing the agenda to interested parties).

Staff has provided to HPC members the application to demolish the structure as filed by the owner, Mr. Cleveland Rippons, in addition to pictures taken by staff on Dec. 17th.  A copy of the demolition notice filed by MDIA (Maryland Department of Inspection, a private company) was distributed to HPC members.  Staff had invited HPC members to conduct a site visit on Wednesday.  Some members have indicated that they have looked at the property.  Beyond that, staff has not been able to conduct additional research on the situation.

Prior to hearing testimony, HPC members noted they have received emails from other members on the subject.  Mr. Dennehy noted he visited the site on Wednesday with staff and met the demolition contractor today and walked through portions of the building.  Brian Roche noted he had discussed the situation with Mr. Dennehy on his findings and also noted the emails received from other parties.  Katie Clendaniel noted that given the quick nature of the event, not knowing what we were dealing with, she had contacted Elizabeth Becksley with Preservation Maryland's Eastern Shore office regarding procedural matters and options, and had contacted Mr. Jay Corvan, President of Historic Cambridge Inc., who reached out to me regarding information he might have.

Mr. Odie Wheeler, Director of Public Works, gave the background to MDIA's responsibilities with the City who now handles property code enforcement; and how they determine whether a property is eligible for a demolition or condemnation order or notice.  He confirmed MDIA has issued a demolition notice.  He noted that with an apparent assessed value at approximately $275,000 and with repair or replacement costs that exceed that figure, MDIA is obligated to issue a demolition notice on the property.  The building is estimated to contain approximately 10,000 square feet.  They inspected the property and determined it is not habitable.  He provided additional pictures to HPC members taken from an aerial view of the property showing the A frame roof completely gone.  He has been in contact with an insurance carrier-appraiser (Mike Beasmith sp?) who had a contractor to look at the property to determine whether it can be re-built.  The contractor has informed them the building appears now not to be salvageable, based on cost factors and cost effectiveness.  He understands that the insurer is no longer pursuing rehab due to its appraised value.  They are looking at the cost of rebuilding the structure and demolition.  He discussed the safety issues with the parapet wall extending above the roof line in the front.  He noted that the front parapet's wall was supported by an A frame roof which is gone.  The tie back rods are still there but not anchored.  The street has been blocked off.  Consideration was also given to the impact that this parapet wall, if it were to fall, could have on neighboring storefronts and cited previous experience with another fire on Race Street where other storefronts were damaged from falling debris.  Given the safety concerns over the parapet wall, the City has acted to remove the upper portion of this wall today.  It is their desire to have the street opened up again by Friday due to concerns from neighboring businesses.

Discussion followed about how much of the parapet wall was being removed and if the bricks were being saved.

Farrell McCoy asked if the bricks were going to be saved and if they could be put back on the building.  Mr. Wheeler noted that this was not the responsibility of the City.  Mr. Denney asked how the parapet wall was being removed.  Mr. Wheeler noted it was going to be accomplished on a brick by brick basis versus it being pushed in or down.

Bob Phillips, Fire Chief for the City of Cambridge Rescue Fire Company noted that the parapet wall was a major concern and would have given orders to push in the walls if bricks were falling off.  Five ladders sustained damage from falling debris and bricks.  He testified that some remaining walls were bowing out in places.  He noted that there is potential for more damage with high winds coming. His concern is that the building will fall down.

Katie Clendaniel asked about the number of people that were living there? While they are concerned with public safety, she asked if any structural analysis had been conducted.  Discussion followed.  Ms. Clendaniel noted that there were several concerns with buildings on the block relating to neighboring properties.  Mr. Phillips discussed his experience with other fire damaged buildings including the Richardson building and the 2008 fire.  Ms. Clendaniel stated we need a structural report that speaks to that building; we just received the demolition application tonight.  Discussion followed about the parapet wall situation again which was an immediate concern and the need to have more detailed information on the building's structural condition from a qualified engineer.

Will Dennehy reported on his observations of the condition of the building.  He noted that he observed structural cracks in the walls and a shift in bricks, especially on the side walls of the buildings.  He believed the City made the right decision in removing the parapet wall due to safety concerns.  Bob Phillips noted that they observed smoke coming through the walls that indicates a separation of the bricks.

Brian Roche asked about the procedures of the insurance company in the context of a historical structure and levels of coverage.  He noted the challenges faced by the Commission in situations like this, the importance of preserving the historical structures of the downtown and the need to avoid putting more holes in our downtown.  He noted the historical importance of this structure.  He reviewed language from Ordinance Number 881.  His goal would be to work with all parties to have an outcome to solve this problem, to save this façade if necessary.  He asked about emergency funding from the Maryland Historical Trust for stabilization.

Mr. Wheeler noted that it is a numbers game at this point with the insurance company and we have been told that it is not capable of being re-habbed from the insurance company.  Mr. Roche asked if the insurance company would be willing to stabilize it.  Mr. Wheeler noted the insurance company appears to be in a demolition mode and may not be interested in rehabbing it; but that would be up to the owner.  Discussion followed as to other options out there.

Elizabeth Beckley, Eastern Shore Field Director with Preservation, Maryland spoke next.  She noted she was a former contractor with experience in historic buildings.  She noted that this is a contributing building to the street view although she acknowledged the concerns with public safety. She discussed the process with the insurance company and the potential shortcomings with relying on their assessment of condition.  She asked if any consideration has been given to shoring the structure up and that a structural report is needed.  An experienced contractor's opinion should be obtained regarding this expense.  The cost of shoring up would be the responsibility of the property owner and the bricks should be saved.  She discussed tax credit and other funding options, involvement with other organizations such as downtown Main Street.  Discussion followed about the HPC procedures with dealing with this application such as moving forward on the request, tabling it, modifying or putting conditions on the application.

Cleveland Rippons, owner of the property stated he is willing to listen to options.  A number of people have testified as to the instability of the property.  There is the possibility the building could implode and affect other buildings.  He has worked with the City to address the problem with the parapet wall.  If he has to keep the structure standing, is the City willing to grant him a waiver of liability?  HPC members asked if information has been gathered on stabilizing the property.  Mr. Rippons stated he has had people look at the first floor from the back of the building; the floor has sunk three to six inches.  He will work with anybody if he can get a waiver of liability.

HPC members asked Mr. Rippons if any structural reports had been done on the structure yet.  Mr. Rippons responded he did know that, given the holidays, it would take possibly 48 to 72 hours.  Discussion followed about the possibility of stabilization, insurance liability and a city waiver of liability.

Bob Phillips noted that he had a discussion with a person (Gilkerson sp?) who looked at the structure.  He had worked with this man previously.  He asked what it would take to preserve the building. He claimed that it not be worth the time; that the structure was so badly damaged that it was not worth the time to write a report.

Discussion followed about the possibility of stabilizing the front wall vs. the entire structure with parallels drawn to the building that sustained extensive damage at 446 Race approximately 4-5 years ago; the advertisement-mural on this building; and the need for more time to discuss the options for this building; the need to save the primary façade, the exterior and time limits. References were discussed that a 90 day limit was mentioned in the rules of procedures regarding this situation.  Timing of the next meeting was discussed.  Other grant options were discussed that may be available to assist in the process.  Mr. Rippons asked if the City was going to provide a letter of liability. Mr. Collision stated they would not.

Mr. Rippons was asked if he had the ability within a short period of time to engage the insurance company to stabilize the property.  Mr. Rippons explained the insurance procedures.  The insurance company would not make this decision; it would be up to the owner; they will not pay any extra for stabilization; it will come out of my pocket.  The insurance company is not an entity in this decision.  Mr. Rippons indicated he is not willing to do anything without more information and on costs.

Elizabeth Beckley offered to provide assistance in locating a structural engineer to assess damage and explore funding sources.  HPC members indicated that anything were to happen, it would have to be done expeditiously.  Ms. Beckley recommended that, again, a ruling should be based on facts, it would be reasonable to get a report on the condition of the structure, stabilization options, costs, steps to be taken. She offered resources to this end.

Farrell McCoy discussed the need to address the problem with the number of fires in the community.

Jay Corvan, President of Historic Cambridge, spoke to the problems with the adjacent buildings both empty.  The building at 509-511 Race Street has a hole in the roof with glass dropping on the street now for over a year.  It is a threat to public safety and nothing has been done to that for over a year.  Regarding this building, he recommended that a structural engineer be obtained that is versed in old, historic building materials and that the Fire Marshall's report be obtained.  The HPC should move cautiously and spoke of the importance of maintaining the historic fabric of downtown Cambridge.

Jane Devlin, West End Citizen's Association spoke in favor of stabilizing the building in an expeditious way in order to keep the fabric and integrity of our downtown.

The HPC acted to close the discussion to the public.  Katie Clendaniel discussed a draft motion taking into consideration that this case be recommended for a continuance; including collecting more information on shoring up the building (costs, methods and strategy); the need to have a certified independent engineer's report with expertise in historic buildings; to give adequate public notice prior to another meeting as other parties have an interest in this case.  Ms. Manicke reviewed the Guidelines, Section B-1, regarding "maintaining the streetscape".  Discussion followed including a reference to the fact that this is a contributing building and is important to the streetscape.  It has a rare and unusual commercial mural advertisement on the side of the building.  Katie Clendaniel commented that she had provided copies of the National Register of Historic Places listing of the property and a picture of the streetscape that was sent out by email to members, regarding its status as a contributing structure.  Brian Roche discussed the owner's responsibility to stabilize the building and to obtain an engineering report.  Mr. Wheeler noted that the Fire Marshall has released the building but it is not known when their report may be available.  Discussion followed about the nature of what the Fire Marshall's report would contain (cause, origins, materials, injuries, etc.) and what an engineering report would address.

Katie Clendaniel moved: (1) the case for 507 Race Street be continued for two weeks to allow for adequate public notice; (2) to require submission of a complete stamped engineer's report provided by the property owner.  If that can't be obtained, the HPC will look into obtaining an independent engineer's report on the building from an engineer of our choosing being an expert on archaic structures; the HPC reserves the right to obtain a 2nd engineer's report;  and that (3) the bricks that may have been removed today be  salvaged.  Farrell McCoy seconded the motion.  Discussion followed about the timing of the next meeting.  Katie Clendaniel amended the motion to change the timeframe to three weeks.  Kathy Manicke seconded the amendment to the motion.  Motion carried.


Extension/Continuation Cases

HPC#49-12, 317 Oakley St., Michelle Kerns (owner), Tim Kerns (applicant)-(1) installation of vinyl siding on main body of house.  Board of Zoning Appeals at a public hearing on September 25th overturned decision of HPC to allow vinyl siding on house and dormer area; remanded case back to HPC to determine appropriate vinyl siding material on main body of house.  Mr. Brandewie stated that he received an email from Ms. Kerns requesting the application be tabled to January's meeting.


Administratively Approved/Routine Maintenance:

Mr. Brandewie noted the following item has been approved administratively.  There was no discussion by the HPC members.  No action needed.

HPC-Adm #15-13, 206 Belvedere Ave., Judd Vickers (owner) repair and replacement of aluminum soffit, fascia and window trim around upper roof dormer. Considered routine maintenance. Administratively Approved. December 5, 2012.


Other Business

Kathy Manicke acknowledged Ms. McCoy's concern with arson, but raised the issue of demolition by neglect regarding the building at 509 Race Street and the danger of falling glass.  Other members concurred and expressed concern with the caved in roof and rain damage.  Katie Clendaniel stated that she heard from a number of neighboring property owners regarding concerns from this building.  Mr. Roche commented on procedures for demolition by neglect.  The need to build a record was stated as a first step.  Mr. Brandewie noted that a first step could be to provide information on the status of citations to establish a record.

Mr. Corvan stated that he spoke with Mr. Terry Easter, the owner of record for the building.  That building is a perfect case of demolition by neglect.  He told me personally that citations issued on that property are thrown in the waste basket.  That's how much neglect is happening and how much he doesn't care about that building.  It is an important resource and it is our responsibility to guard that building. It is in a free fall at this point.  It's such a dangerous building; the bank has taken it off any kind of lien.  And it was due to personal liens on the property that guaranteed payment of loan money.  The owner is very bitter about losing money on the building in Cambridge.  He supported efforts to move forward with (demolition by neglect).  Discussion followed on the rules of procedures regarding demolition by neglect.  Ordinance 814 was cited as well as other references.  HPC members directed staff to provide information regarding citations on this building.

Farrell McCoy suggested that we recommend to the City protocol be established that the City create a budget for a stabilization fund and stabilization happen first.  Ms. Clendaniel referenced other cities procedures; she cited Eason's language on demolition applications and the information needed to proceed.  Ms. McCoy stated that we should recommend (to the City Council) a budget amendment category and that non-profits may have to step forward.  Mr. Brandewie commented on other efforts, particularly in the Midwest, regarding vacant and abandoned properties.  Brian Roche noted that the Economic Development Committee may be receptive to hearing more about these procedures.  Discussion followed.  Mr. Corvan suggested conducting an additional survey of existing buildings.  The Paula Reed study and pictures date back to the 90's.  Easton received a grant to update the buildings in reference to an index.  It was mentioned to get in touch with Priscilla Morris and get her on the agenda for January.

Mr. Brandewie gave a status report on the Annual Report and Enforcement.  Ms. McCoy commented on the Pine Street Nomination process and doing something about this recognition.  This could be an agenda item for January.

Kathy Manicke stated that it was her intention to set a regular monthly meeting on drafting new "Guidelines".  Brian Roche noted that he and Mr. Dennehy have worked on some comments for the By-Laws and Rules of Procedures.  Mr. Brandewie stated he will look at the changes and get back to you.

Kathy Manicke established the workshop date as a continuing date, possibly the first Thursday of the month. The HPC moved to approve this meeting format with an additional monthly meeting on the first Thursday of the month.

Mr. Brandewie instructed HPC members that the copies of the By-laws and Rules of Procedures was made available for HPC comment and members were supposed to get back to me.

Kathy Manicke moved to adjourn the meeting, seconded by Farrell McCoy, at approximately 9:30 PM; Motion carried unanimously.


Respectfully submitted,


Daniel L. Brandewie

City Planner II


Note:  These minutes were approved at the meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on January 17th, 2013