Roll Call.

HDC MEMBERS PRESENT:   Terri Applegate, Harold Filipiak, Donna Gross, Sue McKellar, Ed Saunders, Karen Sherman and Randy Swierzbin

ABSENT:                                     None        

OTHERS PRESENT:                 Robert Connors, Jon Lynch, Director of Planning and Community Development; Dennis Wolf, Chief Building Official and Mark Ostgarden, Secretary


Approval of the Minutes of the Special Meeting of December 19, 2002.

      The minutes of December 19, 2002, were approved as submitted.

Certificates of Appropriateness

Randy Applegate, 109 Ripley Street, install a fence/gate on the southwest side of the house.

A fence/gate, which matches the neighboring fence, was installed on the southwest side of the Applegate’s house.  Terri Applegate explained it was installed by her brother while she was in the hospital.  A photograph of the gate was distributed to the Commission.  The fence is cedar and will have a natural weathered finish.

The Commission thought it was an appropriate addition in that it matches the existing fence style on the neighbor’s property and complies with #10 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

A motion was made by Ed Saunders and seconded by Karen Sherman to approve the request.

Vote on the motion: 

Yea: Harold Filipiak, Donna Gross, Sue McKellar, Ed Saunders, Karen Sherman and Randy Swierzbin.

Nay:  None

Abstain:  Terri Applegate

The application was approved.

Robert Connors, 509 W. Main Street, install two air conditioning units.

Robert Connors plans to install two air conditioning units adjacent to the existing unit on the northwest side of the house.  He provided manufacturers information about the units and a site plan depicting their location.   

Ed Saunders asked if there would be zones in the house and where the connections would be located.  Mr. Connors explained there would be zones and the connections and piping for the new units will be located on the inside of the exterior wall.

The Commission did not have concerns with the unit locations.  They will be screened to minimize visibility; installation does not destroy the integrity of the house.  It will comply with #10 of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards.

A motion was made by Ed Saunders and seconded by Sue McKellar to approve the application.

Vote on the Motion:  

Yea:  Terri Applegate, Harold Filipiak, Donna Gross, Sue McKellar, Ed Saunders, Karen Sherman and Randy Swierzbin.

Nay:  None

The application was approved.

Public Comments.

Donna Gross informed the Commission that she has received approval from the State Historic Preservation Office for the tax credit application.

Old/New Business

1.   The Commission had been provided a copy of the proposed amendments to the West Main Street Historic District Guidelines and Standards for Review at its December 19, 2002 meeting.  The City Council has requested comments from the Commission by March 1st and a public hearing on the amendments is scheduled for March 10th, 2003. 

To assist the Commission in understanding the City Council concerns and positions regarding the need for changes to the process, Jon Lynch reviewed background on what has occurred and provided a video tape of a portion of the August 26, 2002, City Council meeting.  At that meeting the draft changes to the Guidelines and Standards were presented to the City Council, and the City Council discussed its concerns and position about the need for process changes.  Following the vidotape presentation, the Commission discussed the proposed amendments.

The primary concerns by some Commission members are that the new guidelines give the staff the responsibility for review of most applications.  They question whether staff may have the expertise and time to review the applications.  The other concern is that the new guidelines refer only to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines, and there are no additional guidelines to assist property owners in the process.  In the opinion of some of the Commission, the Secretary’s Standards give too much latitude for decisions, and are difficult to understand.  The West Main Street Historic District should have additional guidelines to help property owners in understanding the process.

Staff explained how the process is designed to work.  The Director of Planning and Community Development, the Chief Building Official and the City Planer will work together in reviewing applications.  If there are any questions about a structure, it was suggested the commission architect could be consulted for guidance.  Some on the Commission thought the process recommendations made to the City Council (in June 2002) should be made available to homeowners.  It was staff’s understanding that the recommendations made by the Commission are not what the City Council is looking for.  Without more specific guidelines, there will be no clear guidance.

Other concerns mentioned included, there has not been any more dialogue between the City Council and the Commission.  The current Guidelines and Standards allow for latitude in building code applications for historic building, which has been removed in the proposed changes.  It was stated how the new process will allow the Commission to be involved in other activities such as promotion, and education.

 Chairman Swierzbin, Donna Gross and Sue McKellar will meet with city staff to discuss this process.  Staff will schedule a meeting as soon as possible, as another meeting before March 1st will be needed.

2.    The Commission inquired about the gas station project on Jerome Street.  Jon Lynch explained that a building permit is still in effect but the project is taking much longer than anticipated.    

3.    National Preservation Week is scheduled for May 5-11, 2003.

4.    The Planning Department has a resource book entitled A Field Guide to American Houses.

5.    The secretary inquired about whether Lynn Morgan had contacted any residents about doing a painting of their house.  A couple of Commission members who are residents mentioned they have been contacted.

6.    A magazine by the Historic Society of Michigan was made available to Commission members.  Terri Applegate requested the copy.

7.    The Annual Preservation Conference is scheduled for April 23 – 26th in Kalamazoo.  Commissioners interested in attending should contact the Planning Department.  Terri Applegate expressed an interest in attending.

8.    The Michigan Planner has printed an article entitled Historic Preservation: A Vital Component of Community Planning.  The Commission though the article should be provided to everyone in the district.  The Secretary will see if copies of the article can be made and distributed.


There was no further business and the meeting adjourned at 10:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Mark Ostgarden, AICP, CFM