Friday, September 4, 2020

HARB members resign in protest over council decision on historic district property

The above notice of HARB resignations appears on the September 8, 2020 Columbia Borough Council meeting agenda.

Three members of the Columbia Historic Architectural Review Board have submitted letters of resignation to council, according to the September 8, 2020 borough council agenda released today. HARB Chair Glen Schaeffer, board member Elaine Rice Beckley, and architect Theodore Vedock have submitted resignation letters expressing disappointment and frustration over council's recent vote overriding HARB'S decision to deny the use of composite materials in the borough's historic district, as well as related issues. (Columbia Spy reported on the council vote HERE.) At this time, consultant Suzanne Stallings, building inspector Paul Paulsen and board member Jeff Seibert remain on HARB. Stallings is not a voting member, which means the board will not have a quorum. The resignation letters can be found in the current council packet.


ScottFrederick said...

Just yet ANOTHER example of the good ole boys club in Columbia! Same old same old. THIS IS why Columbia has the reputation that it has!

ScottFrederick said...

Just yet another example of the good ole boys club being alive and well in Columbia. Nothing like being told YOU don't matter EVEN when you follow all the rules that those that are reprimanding you have themselves set up! This is why, EXACTLY WHY Columbia has the reputation that it does! Fairness is a wonderful thing however it rewuires integrity which obviously is inhort supply in this town

Joe Lintner said...

The following comment was sent to Columbia Spy and was signed "Anonymous":
There are actually (4) FOUR porches that are relatively intact (two on each side of two attached these circa 1875 buildings) that have been slowly deteriorating for about 5 years. The two on the alley side have taken the worst because of being exposed to the most weather. They appear to be able to be repaired with some basic carpentry and materials and paint. This is not a "hardship" case...One council member, who voted in favor of allowing Mr. Murphy to remove all of (4) of these original porches and rebuild with (4) all "new"(modern) materials, said it was because this is a "developer who has invested a lot of money in Columbia" and should be able to do whatever he wants and we need to consider changing the ordinance to make it better for him! This is a "developer" who thinks he knows what materials are better than what is required under our ordinance, which is based on the Secretary of Interior Standards regarding this type of work/repair, knows more than individuals who are hired by the Borough to research the history of the property and provide a review and opinion of the proposed work based on their specialized historic preservation/restoration knowledge, more than a preservation architect who is/was on the HARB and who is currently hired by the Borough as the architect/project manager for the Market House project, more than the individual volunteer HARB board members who have spent many years serving on the board and helping to administer the ordinance along with restoring their own homes, and more than any of the surrounding neighbors and friends who have spent almost their entire lives doing painstaking preservation/restoration and construction projects. It comes down to a very simple but very important part of the ordinance...basically it's "whenever possible..repairs need to be in-kind" and you can't neglect your property maintenance to the point that it can't be repaired anymore. PVC or composite materials can be used only in exceptional cases or to fill-in if the original materials are no longer available but absolutely no "wholesale" replacement of original character features and details just because you don't want to paint or do some basic repairs and you prefer a "low-maintenance" property. HARB has never approved the use of PVC or Composite materials for porch railings in the historic district and that's is why they denied the replacement of all (4) porches and railings with PVC or composite materials. And moreover, no evidence was provided that these repairs to the porches would be more costly than repairing what is there and largely still intact. The Mayor also supported the beliefs of the "developer" over all the Borough staff and HARB members who contributed to the recommending the denial of this project based on our ordinance.

AndyPanda said...

IF that was the original wood used, it lasted 150 years, use wood, we are in PA "Penns Woods" lumber is not scarce. No one here will be around when it rots out again