Chairperson Black called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.


1.  Roll Call

     PRESENT:        Ernie Bedford, Jacinth Black, Sandra Jones, Tim Lichtenwald,  and Mike Storey,


     ABSENT:           Richard Osburn

     VACANCY:        One

     OTHERS PRESENT: Keith Baker, Planning Director, Cheri King, Community

                                       Development Specialist and 4 others


Motion by Storey, seconded by Lichtenwald to excuse Mr. Osburn as he has been detained due to business in Grand Rapids.  Motion carried.


2.  Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting on March 4, 2009

It was moved by Bedford and seconded by Lichtenwald that the minutes from the meeting of March 4, 2009 be approved as presented.  The motion passed unanimously. 

3.  Certificate of Appropriateness


      502 West Main Street – Request for addition and exterior modifications

      (Commission action required)


      Mr. Baker showed an aerial photograph of the subject property and surrounding neighborhood.  The property is located at the corner of West Main Street and Ripley Street, facing West Main Street.  The request is to construct a new covered side porch and kitchen.  The porch and kitchen will extend approximately eight feet out from the house.  There were previous Certificates of Appropriateness granted for this residence including one in September 2008 for windows and one in June 2001 for a wooden privacy fence.  Article 7 of the City’s Code of Ordinances provides for the West Main Street Historic District Commission to review appropriateness for exterior changes to resources within the Historic District.  The HDC Guidelines has three classifications including ordinary maintenance, minor work and major work.  This project is classified as major work.  The new work shall be compatible with the old and shall not change the character of the resource.  If approved, the historic value of the building shall not be impaired.  The proposed addition includes a gable on the third story of the house, a tower addition with a gable, and a bump out of the kitchen on the north side of the building, extending to the rear of the building. 


      Joseph Rutkiewicz, 502 West Main Street, stated they want to create a larger kitchen area and gain a covered area for the patio in the back.  The addition upstairs will house the master suite.  They will match that to the size, scale, and design of the gable on the other side.  They also desire to add some windows in the new addition to allow light in.  They probably will have to change the size of the squares on the front of the house.  The window that is there now on the third floor is a replacement window and Mr. Rutkiewicz thinks the third story was never intended for habitation.  They intend to change a little bit of the square design.  They will just re-size the squares to fit accordingly.  Mrs. Black asked about if this addition was ever removed from the house, the guidelines state it would retain the original integrity of the house.  How will this project not affect the integrity of the house if the kitchen is enlarged?  Mr. Bedford stated that, in the event they decide to remove this construction, they would have to put the house back into the shape it is now.  That is how he is interpreting this standard.  Mr. Lichtenwald stated that there is no way to not have the addition attached.  It has to be weather-proofed and connected to the structure.  Mr. Storey stated that they are adding on, rather than destroying what is there so this would keep the integrity of the original structure, according to the Secretary of Interior’s standards.  Mrs. Black stated this house was virtually stripped down in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  She asked if they had any pictures of the original house.  Mr. Rutkiewicz stated they did not.


      Mr. Storey asked if the shingles and the siding will match, and if the roof pitch will match the existing pitch.  Mr. Rutkiewicz stated the pitch will be lower on the porch.  They will also have to move the gate on the privacy fence a little bit out so they can accommodate the kitchen expansion.  They will be doing a completely new roof job on the house.  The current color of the shingles is green.  The house was white when they bought it.  They are going to go with a different color shingle.  They plan to re-use the siding that is removed from the house and they have several boxes of additional siding materials so the outside of the addition will match the existing house. 


      Mr. Storey asked to be excused from the vote as he is very good friends with Mr. and Mrs. Rutkiewicz.  Mrs. Black approved the excuse.


      Motion to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness by Bedford, seconded by Jones, so long as they restore the house to the original design if the additions are removed at a future date.  Motion passed unanimously.


      506 West Main Street – Report on administrative review (staff report) 


      Mr. Baker reported there was a Certificate of Appropriateness granted by staff for the changing of a door and the changing of windows, which constituted minor alterations to the house.  The new windows and doors will match the windows and doors that are already on the structure. 


4.  Public Comments (not related to agenda items)


Ed Saunders, 714 W. Main Street, stated Chairwoman Black has been working on some suggestions for the District.  He would like the Commission to spearhead compiling a list of contractors who have worked in historic districts and done work in these types of houses.  Not everyone who is a contractor has these types of skills.  His second suggestion is regarding the new legislation that has been approved regarding the Historic Preservation tax credits.  Only one home owner has taken on the task of requesting tax credits for changes to resources in historic districts.  If someone would compile a set of instructions relating to how to take advantage of the tax credits offered by the State, this would be a great help to homeowners in the District.  Mr. Saunders suggested the members of the Historic District Commission take advantage of training being offered at the annual conferences in the state, even at their own expense.  This year’s annual conference is in a few weeks in Grand Rapids.  Many of the communities who attend have historic districts that contain hundreds of houses.  This would be a good resource for commissioners.


Mr. Storey suggested homeowners in the district contact homeowners who have had work done on their homes.  Mrs. Black asked Mr. Saunders if he would be willing to work with a committee to compile a list of contractors who might be qualified to do work on historic resources.  Mike Storey volunteered to work with Mr. Saunders.


The new law about the tax credit was just passed in February so what has been done in the past is not necessarily what is required today.


Mr. Baker stated he did register for the conference in Grand Rapids.  If one or two Board members desire to attend this conference, the city could come up with funds to make that possible.


5.  Old Business






6.  New Business


      Mr. Baker stated he had staff put together an informational sheet regarding the new legislation that was recently passed regarding taking advantage of tax credits.  If anyone from the District would like to contact staff, Mr. Baker stated we would be willing to help with these issues. 


      Mrs. Black stated this process is “lengthy and involved”.  Mr. Storey stated he will be looking to do that this year so he is willing to be the pilot for this project.  He will keep the Commission informed of his progress.


      Committee Reports:


      Mr. Storey stated the lighting committee has not done too much but now that the weather is getting nicer they will be becoming more active. 


      Ms. Jones stated the video subcommittee has talked about work that has been done in the District.  Rather than doing a video, they might like to start with a pamphlet for people who might like to take a walking tour.  They could ask hotels to place them in their activity areas.  This is what they would like to do rather than getting involved in creating a video.  If the interest is there and this leads to a video, that would be fine.  However, they would like to start with the pamphlet first and see what interest is generated.


      Mrs. Black talked to Bonnie McManus at the Midland Area Community Foundation.  Sidewalk tours are scheduled in the District on July 16th at 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m..  Anyone who would like to do sidewalk tours during Riverdays should contact Mrs. Black.


7.  Adjournment


     The Chair adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m. 


Respectfully submitted,



Keith Baker, AICP

Director of Planning and Community Development