The Block Island Times

HDC approves latest Spring House barn changes

By Stephanie Turaj | Feb 06, 2013

After initial discord, the Historic District Commission on Monday, January 28, eventually approved three of the four modifications requested for the Spring House Barn.

Spring House architect Glen Fontecchio presented the application for changes to the barn (Plat 8, Lot 84-6), including a new chimney, new doors and modified windows. While the HDC already gave permission for some alterations, these were new requests. In addition, construction on the barn had already started without a building permit, and town Building Official Marc Tillson had issued a stop work order on January 7.

HDC Chair Bill Penn expressed initial hesitation about the application, saying that in 1996, the property owners had been given over a million dollars for a Historic Preservation easement, yet this is the third violation to the easement.

Fontecchio said that this violation had been a matter of miscommunication. Commissioners then went point by point through the modifications and discussed their preferences. Ultimately, a motion was made to approve all the changes, which commissioners Claire McQueeny and Vice-Chair Martha Ball voted against.

Fontecchio then agreed to remove proposed changes on the east elevation of the barn, and the motion passed, with McQueeny voting against. Commissioner Mike Ballard was absent.

Solviken update

The owners of part of the Solviken property, Gary and Grace Doyon, have applied to relocate a previously approved foundation built on the property and move a stonewall.

Two-thirds of the Solviken land was recently purchased for conservation by the Land Trust and Block Island Conservancy (see related story), with the third lot purchased by the Doyons. The Land Trust and BIC have a conservation easement over the Doyon’s portion.

The HDC approved the application to relocate the foundation and stonewall on the property along Corn Neck Road (Plat 5, Lot 4).

Commissioners asked for an update on the status of the Solviken property itself, inquiring about the demolition of the dilapidated building on the site. They asked the Land Trust representatives to save the building, with commissioner Doug Gilpin inquiring if that was possible.

Land Trust Chair Barbara MacMullan, joined by trustee Wendy Crawford and attorney Joe Priestley present, remarked that there were no funds to save the building.

Other applications

Traz Capital partners applied to construct a dormer, install windows and replace trim on a Weldon’s Way condo building that most recently housed “Carmen’s Closet.” (Plat 6, Lot 99). Shea Butcher, representing Traz Capital, explained that the plan was to turn the second floor of the building into an additional living space.

Penn said that the dormer did not meet some zoning guidelines, specifically referring to measurements of the dormers — but commissioners also noted that the small size of the building could restrict the guidelines from being met exactly.

“This one of the smallest buildings in the Historic District,” said Gilpin, and commissioners voted to approve the application.

The HDC put on hold a Land Trust application to construct a concrete retaining wall on land by Ballard’s Inn (Plat 7, Lot 1-1). The Land Trust plans to build the wall to create a public access walking path to the shore. However, the HDC application did not contain an elevation map. Commissioners asked the Land Trust to include this, and offered some preliminary suggestions for the design of the wall.

Officer elections

The HDC elected its 2013 officers. Bill Penn will remain as chair, Martha Ball as vice chair, and Mike Ballard was chosen to replace Claire McQueeny as secretary.


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