HDC to update guidelines

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Chair Dee Bright began last week’s meeting of the Historic District Commission by thanking voters for keeping the HDC in place. A ballot initiative had called for the abolition of the HDC, but that measure failed by 854 to 319. During commissioner comments at the end of the meeting, other commissioners echoed her sentiments. Commissioner Marty Cogan said she was glad “that sanity has prevailed.”

During the period leading up to the election, commissioners had discussed a formal effort to revise and update the guidelines. They considered hiring a consultant to manage the process, but City Historic Preservation Officer Glenna Booth has found that a consultant’s cost would be excessive. Instead, commissioners will set a series of workshops in the new year.

The HDC had a light agenda, with only two applications. At 28 Fairmount St., Mark Anderson asked to remove an exterior stairway and fill the space with a handrail. The house dates to 1904, and is contributing, but the stairway was added in the 1990s as a fire exit for the second floor. Anderson had pictures showing the deterioration in the stairs. The replacement section of railing will match the rest of the house.

Anderson also received permission to replace an entry door. The existing door is not original. He has located a salvage door with a beveled glass light and will use epoxy to repair some architectural details before painting the door.

Bright said, “We’re glad someone has bought that house and is taking care of it.”

Latigo Treuer had previously received approval to demolish a house at 5 Douglas St., and the HDC extended that approval after Treuer explained the problems he had encountered in transferring the title to the house. No one questioned the demolition, given the condition of the house. The commission has drawn a hard line on removing retaining walls, but the wall at the front of the property is an unsightly amalgam of concrete and cinder blocks. Stacks of concrete blocks buttress the wall, and pipes protrude from the wall, showing past attempts to relieve the relentless water pressure behind the wall.

Treuer said he needs to remove the retaining wall to gain access for demolition equipment. He said he would return with plans for replacing the wall, and for building a house on that lot. He also reminded commissioners that the Planning Commission will require two off-street parking places if he builds a house there, and he will have to incorporate that requirement in his plan.

The commission will meet next at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Level III applications were due Nov. 5, and other levels are due Nov. 12. The HDC will only meet once in December, on Dec. 2.

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