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18 April 2002 | Approved: 30 May 2002

Members Present: David Neumann, Clare Cavicchi, Chris Kirtz, Bob Booher, Larry French.

The meeting began at 7:40 pm on Thursday, April 18. Because of other commitments, the Chair, David Neumann, asked the Vice-Chair, Bob Booher, to chair the meeting in his absence.

Most of the meeting was devoted to discussing appropriate standards or criteria for evaluating projects submitted to the Planning Commission (PC) for building permits and passed on to us. Bob initiated the discussion by distributing a one-page sheet suggesting the centrality of four general criteria: a) scale and massing, b) siting and orientation, c) materials, d) elements and detail.

The issue of appropriate standards for evaluating proposed sheds/outbuildings was raised. Clare suggested that many of the Secretary of Interior’s guidelines, as well as Bob’s, could be adapted. The discussions that followed focused on the questions of appropriate scale, compatibility with the house, and compatibility with the surrounding area. Several themes appeared throughout the discussions. First, most expressed concerns over larger sheds and outbuildings noting that they might be out of proportion to the small scale of houses, divert attention from them, or impede views of them. Larry felt that, as a result, proposals for larger sheds should be subjected to more scrutiny by the HPC. Second, several suggestions were made for minimizing the impact of sheds/outbuildings. These included siting them in the yard to diminish visibility, clustering them with existing structures, and reducing their visual impact through landscaping. Third, it was also recognized that some sheds/outbuildings might contribute positively to the property and should be sited in a way to increase visibility from public ways to particular design features.

HPC members briefly discussed definitions or criteria for designating a house as "historic." To this end, it was agreed that we consider all those structures included on the National Registry application filed in the late 1970s as "historic." It was also understood that we would consider additional criteria that would expand the number of WG structures designated as "historic."

Consideration of two proposals for sheds prompted discussion of the specific information the HPC would need that was not normally provided in applications for building permits. There was agreement that we needed: a) elevations of the shed/outbuilding (or other structures) enabling HPC members to visualize the structure contemplated. For structures purchased off the shelf, pictures from catalogs would be welcome, b) descriptions of the immediate environment to include any present or contemplated landscaping that might reduce or increase the visibility of the shed/outbuilding, and c) descriptions of characteristics of the area immediately beyond the property that might be of relevance (e.g. existence or absence of other sheds of similar scale or siting).

In addition, it was agreed that HPC members should ideally visit the sites of proposed projects to enhance their understanding. Chris suggested that we ask applicants to stake out or otherwise indicate the placement of proposed sheds in their yards to help HPC visitors in their deliberations.

It was discussed and agreed that the HPC, in conjunction with the Heritage Committee, would request funds from the town to buy a digital camera to develop a current archive of photos of the exterior of each WG house. This would not only facilitate the work of these committees, but also that of other committees and citizens. A compendium of photos would be kept at McCathran Hall to be available to all.

Toward the latter part of the meeting, the committee considered two applications for sheds. The first, that of Mr. Gregory Silber (110 Ridge Road), was approved. Action on the second, that of Mr. Bruce London (13 Center St.), was deferred pending additional information.

Consideration of these applications raised additional questions. Some of these centered on procedures subsequent to the HPC reaching decisions. It was agreed that, if the applicant did not attend the meeting, some member of the HPC would contact the person regarding the outcome. Also discussed was the possibility of publicizing the recommendations contained in HPC Certificates of Review in order to educate everyone regarding the criteria we were using in our reviews. There appeared to be consensus on the need for some form of publication, but no vote was taken.

Several issues concerning the role of the HPC were also discussed.

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