Solar roof panels for historical district?
The Historic District Commission expects to hear an application soon for two solar roof installations, one for hot water and one for electricity, from the Harbor Baptist Church, which is within the historic district. In anticipation, they took up a discussion on whether to set guidelines. There are currently no solar roof panels within the historic district.
Chair Bill Penn had written the state preservation commission for suggestions, and its guidance was to evaluate solar roof applications on a case-by-case basis, but to try to keep the installations off the front and side slopes of roofs, and to screen them from view. Penn also said the town of Bristol approves roof solar systems in the historic district. They are not, Penn added, a permanent installation, as they last only about 20 years, and they are removable.
Commissioner Douglas Gilpin consulted his manual on HDC guidelines and regulations, and found that solar panels must be screened in a manner to conform to the rest of the building. Those were thought to apply to ground-based panels.
Penn was leaning toward not having special rules for roof installations, but Commissioner Dennis Riordan pushed for some rules. “If you have a guideline, it’s a starting point,” he said.
The discussion was concluded with Penn’s request for clerk Terri Chmiel to draft an amendment for discussion at the next meeting.
Walls, barns, new apartment
A favorable advisory for a certificate of appropriateness for a concrete retaining wall along the Island Free Library driveway-parking lot was delayed until the library’s board of trustees meets. Gilpin read the guidelines on concrete walls, which states they are discouraged and must be screened or covered. The commission agreed they want the wall painted, planted with ivy or otherwise covered before giving a favorable advisory and Connie LaRue, who attended the meeting as chairperson of the trustees, will consult her members.
Plans were presented for the renovation of a barn structure at Island Enterpises, Inc., Plat 8, Lot 84-6, at the Spring House. Glen S. Fontecchio offered three options for the dormers and several options for a porch without egress. The plans had been presented previously and Fontecchio beefed up all of the columns as the commissioners had requested.
Penn mentioned that the town holds easements on all of the buildings and there is a conservation easement on the grounds. All of the property falls within the historic district. That said, Fontecchio was asked whether there is any possibility that the barn will be torn down. He replied that there is very little chance of that. The building is not rotted like a previous one they did tear down.
While most of the commissioners were inclined to accept the porch, Ball felt there should be no porches on a barn. Penn had no problem as, he said, it will no longer be a barn.
The commission voted to accept one of the plans for the dormers, Plan A, and the porch as well, with Ball voting against it.
Plat 6, Lot 21 behind the Red Bird parking lot will be getting a garage with an apartment where previously there had been a barn. John Cusack presented the plans at a preliminary review. The project was given preliminary approval, which allows the foundation to go in. For final approval, the applicant needs to go through the guidelines and address them. Gilpin noted that this is the first new construction within the historic district since he’s served on the board.
Two businesses received approvals for signs: Glenda Luck of Gustave White Sotheby’s International Realty at Plat 6, Lot 99; and Danielle Duffy of Elevation Studio, now located at the Overlook on Plat 19, lot 3. Luck came with a letter from the owners of her building (known as the Figurehead building) saying that they were not continuing the sign plan of the previous owners and supported Luck’s deviation from that plan.
A third sign also received approval after discussion of whether or not to paint over the “Fudge” sign at the Empire Theater, Plat 6, Lot 98, where Block Market is located. Sean Dugan told the commission that people come in to his business requesting fudge, which he does not sell. He even had a visit from the health inspector this year, and so he would like to eliminate the sign. While some commissioners, like Claire McQueeny, dislike the sign and would like it repainted, others agreed with Gilpin, who said those types of painted signs were common on barns and are historic.
Rather than paint it over, Dugan agreed to cover it with wood in the style of the theater and then put his own sign on that, thus preserving but hiding it. A motion of approval passed with a split vote, 5 to 2, with Mark Vaillancourt and Mike Ballard the two nay votes.
As they concluded their meeting, members voted to hold a special meeting for a new business owned by Christine Barry in the Figurehead. The sign was not approved at an earlier meeting because it did not follow the building sign plan, but the commission will rehear their application.