I am trying a different approach in covering August’s meeting. To have more precision on the board’s formal actions and to make my job a little easier, the board’s Legal Action Report is reproduced verbatim. It is shown in italics to differentiate from my comments.
Informal Review, 617 S 3rd Ave. Debora Oslik, property owner. Proposed fence. In Ms. Oslik’s absence, she had a friend present on her behalf. Members expressed support for adding a trellis wall facing 3rd Ave. on the south side of the house for privacy, 6’ high if the wall facing the street were built flush with the house façade and 4’ high if the wall were extended out to the sidewalk. Members suggested using plantings to provide screening if the shorter wall provided insufficient privacy. No formal action taken. The property is on a corner lot and so has no proper rear yard. It is fenced on the street side with a low fence that gives no privacy. The board’s recommendation allows for a privacy screening feature from the SW corner of the house to the south property line. The second option adds nothing significant to privacy. Of course, plantings are also an option since landscaping is not subject to historic review.
Formal Review (Zoning Violation), 546 S 4th Ave. Roy and Elizabeth Garber. Window replacements. Action Taken: The proposal to replace ten house windows with custom-made wood double-hung, double-paned windows matching the existing windows was reviewed and recommended for approval and the zoning violation recommended for closing. Motion made by Ms, Hillman, seconded by Mr. Crum. Six votes in favor, none opposed. The property owner’s window replacement was recommended for approval after the fact by the board. In this case, the city’s review will only add effort and cost to the project. Nevertheless, a historic review should have been initiated before the project was begun.
Formal Review, HPZ 16-34, 521 S Russel Ave. Campeche LLC (Richard Lanning), property owner, Tony Buck representing. Revision of previously approved plans. Action Taken: The proposed changes to the previously approved plans were reviewed and recommended for approval as follows: delete the previously proposed chimneys, eliminate one door opening and replace it with the Tucson Electric panel, stucco the garage addition to match the existing structure, and all windows to be wood double-hung. Ms. McClements moved, Ms. Hillman seconded. Six votes in favor, none opposed. This review inspired extensive discussion but no controversy. Board members were supportive of the project and the property owner’s representative was very accommodating. The structures have had serious deterioration and all present wanted to see that corrected.
Doing a General Neighborhood Mailing on HPZ Issues. Board discussion. Action Taken: The Board approved the text of the planned neighborhood mailing, with two minor changes to the draft. Mr. Crum moved, Ms. Factor seconded. Six votes in favor, none opposed. There has been significant discussion in the neighborhood about the lack of awareness of historic zone requirements here. This is an effort to address that shortcoming. More work must be done here. The major burden should fall on the city’s Planning & Development Services Department. The historic review staff has become known for opaque guidance and poor customer service.
Much of the discussion near the meeting’s end centered on how the review process could be made simpler and less onerous, especially for minor items. The board is clearly not yet of one mind as to how review can be improved. Some want relaxation of reviews for minor repairs or changes and others fear a general deterioration of our historic character might result. The community needs far more discussion in this area.