For anyone that has attended meetings of the Historic District Review Board, you leave many times scratching your head at the decisions that have been made. It seems they are more driven by whim rather than a consistent reading of the so-called historic guidelines.
At the December 20th Regular Meeting, Town Council had to try and clean up another mess created the HDRB.
On December 12,
The appeal highlighted the frustrating nature of dealing with this board, where inconsistency is the norm. While preserving the historical character of the town via the power of a historic overlay district, preservation seems to be a relative term and is handled differently depending on, who, what and where you are. We have seen siding debacles galore–vinyl is strictly verboten, while cement slurry products like Hardie Board are slapped up all over the place.
We’re still waiting for someone to explain the historic approach of the Cape Charles Hotel.
The board’s approach to chimneys, both new and old has been especially ridiculous. At 204 Washington, the board went on a tear, rejecting the use of a vinyl covered chimney. Unfortunately, it was revealed that the then mayor George Proto, had the exact same type of vinyl chimney.
In this case, the applicant provided several instances where chimneys have been taken down–the chimney is located on the backside of the home, is non-functioning, and according to the contractor,
Councilman Grossman did his own research and provided several examples where the HDRB allowed chimneys to be taken down–in some cases, they were even in the front of the home and were contributing features.
After several minutes of discussion, the Council in a 4 to 2 vote, decided to back the HRDB’s decision and deny the appeal only because, well they’re the Historic District Review Board. There were the proverbial comments about more training for board members, which seems to come up every time Council needs to cover its posterior after a dubious decision.