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Historic Preservation Commission looks to fine tune its guidelines

SALISBURY — Following the approval of several cases on the agenda, members of the Historic Preservation Commission spoke Thursday about the need to re-evaluate portions of its guidelines.

The commission heard two cases for roof replacements back-to-back. One applicant on Ellis Street withdrew after the board informed her they could not consider cost as a factor.

And Jesusa Cabagnot returned to the commission for approval of a roof replacement at her rental property at 808 N. Main St. The commission tabled her application in May after discussing the denial of a slate roof replacement. On Thursday, the commission unanimously approved Cabagnot’s application after she presented different materials that “closely imitate historic roofing materials appropriate to the structure.”

Chair Andrew Walker said he expects the commission to see more roof replacement applications as historic home’s roofs come to the end of their life. The guidelines need rewriting, Walker said.

Member Acey Worthy said he would like the guidelines to be brought up to date through a subcommittee with city staff and a couple commissioners “with an eye of making it more usable for the public and more usable for us when we come into a situation: we’re in a conflict, we agree with the applicant, but we can’t because of the guidelines.”

The guidelines were drafted four years ago.

Member William James said the commission will either have to change guidelines to consider cost or help applicants to find resources.

“I do think that, if we’re going to reject an application and therefore make it a real financial burden on these homeowners, we’re going to have to have some burden on ourselves to provide some assistance — at least information on alternatives,” James said.

James also inquired about the owner of the Ellis Street home and if city staff had reached out to her to help find suitable materials for her tin roof replacement.

“Honestly it’s not that much — in my opinion — of an architectural feature that is so attractive to the particular house that it is absolutely requisite,” he added.

When updating the commission’s guidelines, Worthy said, members should also look at energy efficiency.

Staff liaison Catherine Clifton said she has spoken to Brett Sturm, a restoration specialist of the State Historic Preservation Office, about the guidelines and asked him to evaluate them. She proposed having Sturm speak before the Historic Preservation Commission in the next couple months. She added that he assisted Cabagnot with finding a material that was economically friendly and would be favorable for the commission.

James and member Sue McHugh expressed interested in being members of a subcommittee to fine tune the guidelines.

Eugene Goetz asked Clifton if there was a possibility of a consent agenda after two cases from the Rowan County were unanimously approved with no hesitation from the commission and a case regarding the future apartments at 132 E. Innes Street were also approved by all.

With a consent agenda, Clifton said, it would prevent the public from adding testimony to the cases. She said, though, the commission could consider items to add under the minor works report when updating the guidelines.

Rowan County government on Thursday received approval to replace wall louvers, used for air ventilation, outside the Rowan County Courthouse at 210 N. Main St. The county also received approval for two Liftmasters at the parking lot at 118 W. Liberty St. to regulate who parks there.

Also, Jon Palmer, of Carrol Fisher Construction Company, asked the commission to amend several items from its application approved in October regarding the 132 E. Innes St. apartments. The commission approved installing new high transom windows, fiberglass entry doors and additional exterior lighting. 

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