17 February 2009 | Approved: 17 March 2009
Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) members present: Bob Booher, Chair, David Neumann, Margot Bohan, and Ed Mroczka. Joe Clark, member of the Town Council (TC) and Liaison to the HPC, was also present.
David Neumann agreed to take minutes for the meeting and the meeting was officially called to order at 7:30pm by the Chair. The agenda proposed by Bob Booher was reviewed, modified, and then adopted by the members. Minutes of the regular HPC meeting of January 21, 2009 were reviewed and approved subject to changes which David Neumann agreed to make.
Review of Projects
There were no projects to be reviewed.
Joe Clark explained the difficulties facing new Council members in learning and absorbing the history of issues that have occurred in the past and become relevant or of importance either because they recur or because they are relevant to new issues in Town. He discussed the new ordinance 2009-01 which is intended to help protect the Town against tear downs and mansionization. He discussed the issue of damage to the surface of the athletic field due to automobile tire tracks and the status of the ICC lawsuit. His impression is that the previous draft ordinance on the boundaries of the properties along 2nd Avenue and the porches that are on Town’s right-of-way is dormant or tabled for the time being.
Annual HPC Award Criteria
Bob Booher provided Margot Bohan with corrections and suggestions for the draft criteria for the annual HPC award. A number of suggestions or edits were made. Margot agreed to re-edit the criteria and will re-send it to each of us to get our comments. Joe Clark suggested that the HPC give another award to an individual who does something for historic preservation or for the Commission during the year or past few years.
Planning Commission – HPC Review Procedure
Interactions with the Planning Commission were discussed. Bob Booher agreed to be a contact person with the HPC. David Neumann agreed to assist. There was some discussion on the number of reviews that have been affected by procedural problems. The members could recall only one or two over several years. We again discussed a joint PC and HPC meeting. The issues are laid out in the January 2009 HPC minutes. Bob and David were to make a preliminary proposal to the PC for changes in the building permit procedures.
It was resolved that Bob Booher would talk to John McClelland (Chair of the PC) to suggest that we come up with a set of goals and a path or way forward to improve permit application procedures.
A short discussion took place about changes in structures that were not currently subject to PC or HPC review, but were of importance to historic preservation. The main example of such would be changes to the façade of a building.
We also discussed sending a letter to all the owners of contributing structures in the Town to let them know their residence is on the list of contributing structures, and what that designation implies.
Joe Clark brought up the question of the HPC assisting the PC to make suggestions regarding changes to the zoning ordinances with respect to criteria for approval/disapproval of applications by owners to subdivide or re-subdivide land in Town.
Members suggested that the Bulletin be used to educate residents in the Grove about mthods fo the preservation of elements in structures, such as doors, windows, exterior materials, etc.. As an example, it was suggested that more information be given on the preservation and renovation of windows. It is hoped that ideas now contained in the HPC Design Guidelines could be used in the Bulletin. The members were pleased with the HPC entries written by Mimi Styles that were used in the February Bulletin.
Another suggestion for the HPC blurb in the Bulletin was to suggest to residents when the best time was to come in to the HPC for their review. Also, one could suggest to owners that if they plan to change the façade on their house, we would gladly assist them in their design. One could also mention the older names of the cottages in the Bulletin to help residents appreciate the history of the building in Town.
Proposed Modification of the Town Zoning Ordinance 2008-07
Members again discussed the Zoning Ordinance proposal regarding lot coverage. Ed provided the square footage of his lot and the square footage of his residence. Bud O’Connor suggested several considerations in an email to the PC and TC. The proposed ordinance contains restrictions based on the square footage of the lot. Thus, the question is should one consider the footage within the set-backs, should one consider the ratio of the footprint of the residence and accessory buildings to the lot square footage or the total square footage of the residence and accessory buildings to the lot square footage. We discussed that the issue of floor area ratio had been defeated a few years ago. The question of height of the buildings, and height relative to neighboring buildings could be discussed further. We also discussed that another criterion could be total square footage of the residence/structure. In addition the idea of a decreasing or sliding scale could be devised for larger lots. A simple maximum for the entire Town was also briefly discussed.
Some rationales for these zoning rules were also discussed such as light, sense of closeness, sense of encroachment. Only some of these criteria have to do with historic preservation.
It was suggested that the HPC meet with the PC once a month to discuss the issue of Lot Coverage. Another suggestion was for the HPC to look at the solutions other communities have found to deal with the issue of mansionization and with scale.
The issue of historic preservation easements, conservation easements, etc. was briefly discussed. The idea of public workshops to focus on these issues was also mentioned. We could possibly setup, even get a grant to organize, such a workshop with assistance from the MD Historical Trust or the Montgomery County HPC.
Finally, the suggestion was made to have a separate study group be formed to determine the existing sizes of houses.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 p.m.