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HPC Minutes

January 23, 2014

The Historic Preservation Commission met on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 at the City Council Chambers, 305 Gay Street. Brian Roche, Chair, began the meeting at approximately 7:05PM and took a roll call of members attending.

Commissioners Attending: Brian Roche, Will Dennehy-Vice Chair, Ron Berman, Patricia Weichmann, Mike Russo, Dormaim Bromwell Green.

Commissioners Absent:

Other Representatives or Staff Attending: Dan Brandewie, City Planner II.

Mr. Roche provided the opening statement and swore in persons wishing to testify. There were two members of the public and staff that were sworn in.

Brian Roche noted there were no new agenda items and no consent or continuation items. HPC members requested an agenda change to allow the vote of officers after the review of the draft zoning code. It was moved and properly seconded to move the election of officers to after the discussion on the draft UDC code changes. Motion carried.

Approval of Minutes

Dec. 23rd, 2013 HPC Regular Meeting
Jan. 9th, 2013 HPC Workshop

Mr. Roche noted that there were two sets of minutes to approve and requested that one change be made to the January 9th set of minutes.

A motion was made by Will Dennehy to approve the minutes with the change; second by Patricia Weichmann. Motion carried.

Regular Agenda Items

HPC#34-FY 13-14, 107 Glenburn Ave. Paul Washo, to install 25 roof mounted PV solar panels on accessory buildings in rear of property.

Mr. Brandewie provided a staff report on this application and presented material to HPC members using the new technology set up with the projection screen. This application would be to install several solar panels on two accessory buildings in the rear of the property. He reviewed current language in the Design Guidelines which contains very little direction on the treatment of solar panels. Section E (6) makes reference to exterior mechanical systems and that the language used is that "installations should not be visible from the street". He reviewed language from the Secretary of Interior Standards on Rehabilitation and Sustainability which contains a number of recommended and not recommended actions regarding the installation of solar panels. This language allows more leeway and uses the term "minimally visible" from the public way. In addition, other criteria is applicable in that the solar panels are not being installed on a historic structure, they are reversible, and will be flat or parallel to the roof line. He noted that the applicants did conduct an energy audit through a program offered by the State of Maryland. Staff did discuss whether or not the panels would project over the peak of the roof. His discussion with the company rep indicated that they would not be installed higher than the top of the roof line. Staff was supportive of the request noting that this would be the 4th installation of solar panels in the Historic District but the first to have solar panels installed on accessory buildings.

Mr. Paul Washo and Mr. Michael McGrath discussed their application and reviewed the results of their energy audit. They had evaluated the potential installation of replacement windows on the house. The energy audit persuaded them that this would not be cost effective and that the house is fairly tight with regard to air flow and infiltration. The installation of a 265 watt-25 panel solar system was cost effective with an estimated pay back of approximately 6.3 years. They noted that only one side of both accessory building's roof would have panels.

Mr. Dennehy asked if alternative solar panel systems were explored such as the use of solar shingles. If the cost was not that much greater, would solar shingles be an option as opposed to solar panels. The applicants indicated that they have not explored that option. Mr. Berman noted that the language in the adopted Guidelines state that they should not be visible from the street; and that even if the panels are minimally visible, more solar installations could eventually have more of an impact on the Historic District. He also noted that environmental benefit is not a basis for our decisions. Other members noted positive aspects of this installation in that the panels are not being installed on a historic building and that an energy audit was conducted. Members asked of other locations were considered and asked about tree coverage on the site.

Mr. Washo responded that two trees were removed in the rear to accommodate the installation. At least one was diseased and one was impacting a building. There were no other practical alternatives to installing the system on the rear of the main house or other locations due to lack of exposure and shading from trees next to the house.

Hearing no further discussion, the HPC acted to close the public comment portion of the meeting. After further discussion, Will Dennehy moved to approve Case Number 34-FY13-14 at 107 Glenburn Avenue as submitted; second by Dormaim Bromwell Green. Motion carried unanimously.

1. Review of Draft Zoning Language for HPC

Mr. Brandewie reviewed highlighted sections of the new draft zoning code, referred to as the Unified Development Code (UDC) as it related to the Historic District and HPC. Several sections were reviewed. Suggested changes to language were made by members as it relates to the HPC's authority to approve, deny or approve with modifications and to language referring to the Chair's authority to write a summary opinion of a decision made by the HPC. It was recommended that with these changes being made, the HPC should act to approve the draft.

Patricia Weichmann moved to support the draft UDC code as it pertains to the Historic District and HPC and to forward this document to the Planning Commission; second by Ron Berman. Motion carried unanimously.

2. Election of Officers

HPC members discussed procedures relating to the election of officers and whether the two officers, Mr. Roche and Mr. Dennehy would be willing to serve again. Mr. Roche noted that it would be his desire to see the Guidelines through to adoption but, if re-appointed as Chair, he will be eventually be stepping down to devote more time to other topics of importance to him including expanding on bike trails in the community. Mr. Dennehy indicated a willingness to serve again as vice-chair.

Dormaim Bromwell Green moved to re-elect Brian Roche as Chair, and Will Dennehy as Vice-Chair. Second by Patricia Weichmann. Motion carried 4-0 in favor with Mr. Roche and Mr. Dennehy abstaining from voting.

3. Discussion-Review of Guidelines

Mr. Brandewie provided an update on progress to the draft guidelines. Two chapters need to be sent out and more work is needed on the chapter addressing demolition and demolition by neglect. Discussion followed on this topic. Staff sent out a legal brief on this topic today, that reviewed how other states address demolition by neglect. Staff recommends not deleting the current procedures as spelled out in the HPC ordinances and the existing zoning code. Discussion followed about making changes to the Guidelines authorizing the HPC to conduct a review on a periodic basis of those properties that are considered to be candidates for demolition by neglect. Staff recommended that a final draft of all chapters be sent out on Friday or Monday. Graphics and photographs would not be in these drafts at this point. Members would have approximately 2 weeks to review the material that would be discussed at the next workshop meeting on February 6th.

Administratively Approved/Routine Maintenance:

Mr. Roche noted the following item approved administratively.

HPC-Adm. #22A_FY 13-14, 117 Choptank Ave. Dennis Cowell, replacement of arch. dimensional shingles with like-kind. No ridge vents. Administratively approved, 1-02-14.

Enforcement Update

Mr. Roche noted one satellite dish that was removed from a property on Choptank Avenue and requested staff to follow-up with the laundry mat property further down on Choptank Avenue.

The meeting concluded at approximately 9:00PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Daniel L. Brandewie, City Planner II

Signature: ____________________________________ Date: _______________________


Note: These minutes were approved at the meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on February 20th, 2014.