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18 April 2006 | Approved: 16 May 2006

HPC members present: Bob Booher, Chair, Mimi Styles, Chris Kirtz, and David Neumann. Councilman David Stopak attended as Town Council liaison. The meeting was called to order at 7:45 pm.

After some modifications, the Commission members approved the Agenda presented by Bob Booher.
David Neumann agreed to take minutes for the meeting. Minutes of the regular of March 21, 2006 were approved subject to changes to be made by Chris Kirtz. Minutes of the special meeting of March 26, 2006 were also approved subject to changes to be made by David Neumann.

Review Session

  1. An application submitted by Michael and Cynthia Elliott to construct a gazebo in the rear of their house at 415 Center Street was reviewed.
  2. An application submitted by Bill Harrison to construct a 12’x10′ shed to be attached to his house/garage at 500 Brown Street was also reviewed.
  3. The HPC unanimously approved the idea presented in a letter (4/16/2006) to Bob Booher by Ann Briggs and Linda Baim of the Town Council that the outdoor fireplace near the athletic field be restored. It was agreed that as stated in the letter "this is structure of real historical value to the Town as an artifact of a particular time in our history." The HPC agreed therefore that the structure should be restored, kept, and maintained.

Work Session

  • Changed construction drawings.
    One or more members of the HPC had noticed while passing the construction at 102 Ridge Road that the work on site did not seem to agree with the drawings that had been reviewed by the HPC at its regular meeting on December 20, 2005. Those drawings with a completed permit application form had been submitted to the Town on Dec. 7, 2005. The HPC review is on the Town Web site.

    Bob Booher said that he had spoken with the owner and that she had said that the changes were needed as the old roof could not properly support the changes as proposed in the plans.

    After examining the drawings submitted and discussing the changes that had been seen on the site, Chris Kirtz moved that the HPC send a letter to the PC that the building was being built significantly different than the drawings that accompanied the permit application had indicated. Chris Kirtz agreed to draft the letter. The motion was seconded and the members agreed by unanimous vote to send a letter to the Town Planning Commission stating that they believed that the work in progress did not agree with the drawings. It was decided that that letter should also be included in these minutes. Thus, the HPC was asking the PC to take up the issue of whether there had been changes from the PC approved drawings and plans and then whether there had been some violation of the ordinances. It was agreed that as a courtesy copies of the letter should be sent to the owner, Ms. Joan Mahaffey, the architect Mr. Ralph Hurst, and the Mayor.

    A major issue that concerned HPC members was that the HPC could not locate a copy of the final drawings and plans for the 102 Ridge Road renovation as approved by Montgomery County Permitting Services. The Town ordinances Article IV Section 2 says "A copy of the approved Montgomery county permit must be provided to the Town." Therefore we were unable to compare the work being done with the County approved drawings. The HPC has assumed that the drawings approved by the Town’s Planning Commission are the same as those approved by the County’s Office of Permitting Services.

    David Stopak agreed to report on this matter to the TC.

  • Report to HPC on the Town Council.
    David Stopak explained that the Town was still seeking a code enforcement officer. Further, he reported that the budget of the HPC needed to be presented to the TC. We decided a proposal to the Town for $500 as a set aside for awards, the photograph project, and memberships. We also agreed that $5000 was needed for matching funds in a grant proposal to seek assistance by a professional to survey the Town as to how to possibly construct overlay zones, or other methods of encouraging preservation of the character, historic and other, of the Town. We agreed to also ask for $2000 for possible consultations. The final decision was to keep the same budget as last year.
  • Ordinance changes
    Chris Kirtz reported on his work to read the entire Town Ordinances to see where changes or corrections were needed to encourage historic preservation. He reported that he had completed his reading and will mark up the places where he believes changes need to be made. He will send all the members a copy of his list of these sections in the Town Ordinances.
  • Ex Parté communications
    Chris Kirtz had written a draft of changes in the HPC procedures or By-Laws that needed to be made to define and discourage ex parté communications by the members of the HPC. He had sent his draft to David Neumann by email. David Neumann had looked up how various other jurisdictions and organizations handle this matter. David presented Chris’s draft to the members as well as a long document containing ideas from the other jurisdictions.
  • HPC Rules of Procedure
    David Neumann suggested that the changes in the HPC Rules of Procedure should be merged with the HPC By-Laws. He again said that he would provide a new draft at the next meeting of the HPC. Members approved merging the By-Laws with the Rules of Procedure.
  • Work Plan for Discussion of the HPC in the Master Plan and Changes to the Ordinances.
    Bob Booher and David Stopak and Mimi Styles have been working on a plan to include more residents in writing the section of the Town Master Plan related to Historic Preservation. The idea is to also bring more residents into the discussion of methods of encouraging and implementing historic preservation through measures explored in the Questionnaire, changes in the Town Ordinances, and/or other methods. It was agreed that the HPC would try to get an announcement in the next Town Bulletin explaining the Work Plan and asking for volunteers. Bob Booher’s summary of issues for the Master Plan group are included with these minutes. A list of issues and topics for the proposed Methodologies Group is being worked on.

    Master Plan Coordination Group – Suggested procedure for updating Section 8

    Historic Preservation Commission — April 18, 2006

    Master Plan Coordination Group

    Suggested procedure for updating Section 8

    1. Review the Nomination Form for Listing on the Register of Historic Places.

    2. Review the language in Section 8 of the Master Plan plus Planning Commission revisions and ascertain whether it provides sufficient guidance to protect the listing.

    3. Identify what elements, areas and characteristics of the Town are in the Town’s interest to protect and what elements and areas are open to change.

    4. Define the Town’s historic and desired relationship to the surrounding communities.

    5. Establish reasonable goals that balance economic growth and historic preservation.

    Suggested issues and areas to discuss

    1. Describe the aspects of the layout of the Town that are important to protect.

    2. Identify the common structures of the Town that are important to protect

    3. Identify the elements that connect the Town to the surrounding communities and rural context that are important to protect.

    4. Identify the viewsheds that are important to protect.

    5. Identify areas of the Town that may have special characteristics requiring additional protection and areas that may require less.

    6. Provide a conceptual framework for characterizing the relation of the houses to the landscape.

    7. Identify aspects of the original and contributing houses influence their scale and relation to the setting.

    8. Define terms such as scale and character in terms of the preservation goals established.

    9. Provide a conceptual framework for identifying characteristics of the designs of houses that aid in maintaining compatibility with itself, with the adjoining houses, with the neighborhood and with the Town as a whole.

    John G. Compton, Mayor, Washington Grove:

    Dear Mayor Compton:

    I am writing on behalf of the Historic Preservation Commission to bring to you attention concerns we have over work currently being performed at 102 Ridge Road [Clearview], the residence of Joan Mahaffey.

    It had been brought to my attention that original parts of the house had been removed and replaced.

    At last night’s HPC meeting, we examined the submitted plans we reviewed and which were approved by the Planning Commission.

    Our examination concluded there appeared to be at least one major variance from the plans we reviewed and the Planning Commission approved — namely the rebuilding of the original front gable facing out onto Ridge Road raising its height approximately four feet.

    Our examination was limited to these original plans as we were unable to locate a copy of the Montgomery County approved building plans which we are believe are now required to be filed under our ordinances when received by the applicant and before construction begins.

    Our request is that you look into this matter as soon as possible; determine what, if any, violation[s] have occurred; what appropriate follow up action is in order; and ensure that any follow up action is taken promptly.

    Our concern is that if rules have been violated that it needs to be addressed. If indeed violations have occurred and are not addressed, we see at least two potential adverse consequences. First, volunteers like ourselves and Planning Commission members may well wonder why they are expending their time and energy if their recommendations and approvals are subject to modification at the convenience and prerogative of the applicant. Second, this may foster the perception that residents can flaunt the rules and approvals as they see fit without consequences, or perhaps even more perniciously, that “certain” residents can, and that our statutory provisions are enforced selectively.

    Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter

    Robert Booher, Chair
    Washington Grove Historic Preservation Commission
    cc: Town Council Members
    Planning Commission Members
    Historic Preservation Commission Members
    Town Clerk
    Joan Mahaffey, Home Owner
    Ralph Hurst, Architect

Miscellany. The next meeting will be on May 16, 2006 at 7:30 pm.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:00 p.m.

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