New house at power company clears first hurdles with HDC

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 10:15am

For the Block Island Historic District Commission, the phrase “sweating the details” is gospel, and this week’s meeting proved no different.
The commissioners got underway on Monday, punctually, with a warm and genuine welcome to newly appointed commissioner Bill Koch. Koch was recognized as a great addition by Chair William Penn, “for
his work on historic buildings, and his understanding of historic preservation.”
The commissioners then took up an agenda that covered signs, doors, windows and a new home. Penn reminded the group and the public that “comments should be limited to the exterior design of the building
and site. Comments will not be allowed as to the interior design or use of the project.”
Commissioners approved two projects: A sign for Block Island Fishworks will get a freshened look, and a new business called Block Island Furniture, to be located in the Odd Fellows building, was welcomed with proprietor Ben Martin exclaiming, “I am super excited about this.”
The newly-based island brand Sweaty Blonde proposed a four-foot by 36-inch perpendicular sign hanging off the front of the small building behind the Figurehead on Weldon’s Way. Commissioners expressed concern that in high winds the signs would blow, like sails on a sailboat. Koch recommended addressing the concern by stipulating “locking caribiners” be installed, and the applicant, Olivia Hopf concurred. With two commissioners abstaining, the sign was approved with the stipulations.
Final approval was also granted for new windows at both Island Marine on Ocean Avenue and behind the Yellow Kittens, to meet current state fire codes.
Gail Hall received final approval for a new door on her Chapel Street office, and Block Island Realty received the go-ahead to install a new air conditioning unit, with lattice work used to hide the addition on its Corn Neck Road office. All votes were deemed final.
Commissioners then moved to preliminary review of a new home proposed by the Block Island Utility District on the corner of Ocean and Beach Avenues. The home will be utilized by President Jeffrey Wright and his wife, allowing their current quarters to be freshened for staff housing. Chair Bill Penn recused himself from the review as he had a hand in designing the home and is on the BIUD Board of Commissioners. Mary
Jane Balser presented the plan on behalf of Wright and the architect.
Modular in construction, the panel liked the overall flavor of the building as presented. Its placement on the lot is constricted by wetlands, a flood zone, and zoning setback requirements.
Commissioner Mark Vaillancourt praised “the overall look of the home with a porch running the length of the front of the home, it’s a wonderful design.” He concurred with Martha Ball’s suggestion of adding a false window or decorative framing to break up and improve the overall symmetry of one wall.
A lengthy discussion took place after Commissioner Arlene Tunney questioned the look and the manufacturer of the large number of windows, who was unfamiliar to everyone. After a rigorous discussion with
Balser and extensive back and forth within the committee, Balser agreed to return to the commission with window samples and options that will blend in with the surrounding properties, while addressing commissioner’s aesthetic and quality concerns. The commissioners approved the siting and massing of the new home as submitted and adjourned after approving March meeting minutes.