Outdoor walk-in and sign regulations

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 10:45am
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At its Monday, Feb. 23 meeting, the Historic District Commission (HDC) reviewed plans for alterations to the outside of the Poor People's Pub to enclose a walk-in cooler. A walk-in cooler is being installed on the porch of the building and will therefore need to be enclosed. Owner Ross Audino brought renderings to show the two different options under consideration. The first was a latticework cage and the second would bump out the elevation of the front porch to match the existing structure.

The HDC very quickly rejected the idea of the bump out, noting the time, money, and difficulty of making it match the rest of the building. "It's going to look like a pimple," said member Mark Vaillancourt.

"The lattice maintains the integrity of the porch as opposed to the bump out," said Commission Chair Bill Penn.

However, the commission resisted the use of inexpensive lattice. Members referenced a number of other buildings in the historic district where lattice was used to great effect, including the Spring House and the Historical Society. Audino, who said he would like to start the project within the next few weeks, told the commission that he would be, "Happy to replicate any of those" treatments.

In the end, the commission granted a continuance to the project until March 3 at 11 a.m. Between now and then, Vaillancourt and Audino will tour some of the properties mentioned and return with new plans, one of which the HDC hopes to approve.

Architect Geoffrey Rigby-Leather came before the HDC to speak for an application from Ann Law for a project on Corn Neck Road. The plans (plat 6, lot 136) had been previously approved, but due to unexpected zoning issues, changes had to be made. Leather brought both new and old plans to show the HDC the alterations.

"It's better," said Vice Chair Martha Ball, as she examined the new drawings.

"It has more of those eccentric qualities that a lot of historic buildings have here," agreed Rigby-Leather.

The plan changes have delayed the project by four or five months and Rigby-Leather hopes to get it moving again as soon as possible. Now that the HDC has given preliminary siting and massing approval, the next step will be to go before the Planning Board and then back to the HDC for final approval of the structure itself. "I'm not going to mess this one up," said Rigby-Leather.

Lorraine Cyr is replacing the old, wooden windows on the ULBE property (The Surf Hotel) on Dodge St. "I'll replace them with the same thing, if you want," Cyr told the HDC.

Penn said that while Department of Interior standards generally called for replacements in kind, the HDC had some lattitude to approve materials other than original wood. "We've learned that on Block Island replacing in kind doesn't work," he said. Cyr didn't have the exact windows picked out yet, but the HDC recommended a few and approved her plan with the caveat that she use designs that were within the guidelines laid out for windows in the HDC guidebook. Cyr hopes to have the project completed by fall of this year.

In other matters, Penn discussed a letter he had received after appearing before the Planning Board on Jan. 13. The letter contained several questions about changes to regulations regarding signage in the historic district. While the HDC plans to respond to these questions, it has deferred action until more members become available for comment.

In a similar vein, Town Council member Mark Emmanuelle has been championing the HDC's sign regulations. While 36 violations were issued last year, only eight to nine of them were resolved. The rest remain open and the signs have not been removed. Emmanuelle has been working informally to correct improper signs and the HDC voted to endorse the increase of the clerk's hours, from 30 hours a week to 35, which has been included in the proposed Land Use Department budget (out of which the clerk is paid). 

Penn noted that he has also recommended a part-time seasonal sign official to keep up with the violations. 

Under "other business," Penn brought before the HDC the issue of the former Mid-Ocean Press, located between the Island Manor Resort and Saint Andrew's Church on Chapel Street. "It's becoming a health and safety issue," said member Claire McQueeny. While the commissioners did not act on the issue this month, they did add it to next month's agenda.

At the conclusion of the meeting, a brief election was held, reelecting Penn as chair, Ball as vice chair, and Mike Ballard as secretary.