City of Aurora Preservation Commission met June 15.
City of Aurora Preservation Commission met June 15.
Here is the minutes provided by the Commission:
Call to Order:
Mr. Miller called the meeting to order at 7:00p.m.
The following Preservation Commission members were present: Marissa Furneaux, Dan Miller, Jim Schweizer, Herman Shelton, Don Truax, Rob Vaughan and Mike Walker. Fernando Castrejon, Mike Lord and Al Signorelli called in and excused themselves from the meeting. Jose Garcia were absent.
The following staff members were present: Jill Morgan.
Approval of Minutes:
17-00502 Approval of the Minutes for the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on May 11, 2017.
A motion was made by Mr. Truax, seconded by Mr. Schweizer, that the minutes be approved and filed. The motion carried by voice vote.
17-00532 May Historic Certificate of Appropriateness Report
Mr. Schweizer said I do have a question on number 2332, Private Drive Only, 265 Cedar Street, 5/11/2017 – Applicant is approved to repair driveway with concrete repairs. Work adheres to Design Guidelines, clarification memo b.4.5: Parking, Section E: driveways that are concrete shall remain concrete. In our guidelines revision dated 2006 it says that driveways that have originally concrete should be preserved. Does the clarification memo supersede the guideline there?
Mrs. Morgan said well it doesn’t supersede. We came before the Commission to clarify like what do we really mean by should, like to when to give it like more specifics on when do we want it, when we don’t, so that was the clarification. The Commission said if it is concrete it shall remain concrete. If it is gravel or asphalt, it can be asphalt.
Mr. Schweizer said and that would be a revision to the ordinance wouldn’t it?
Mrs. Morgan said not a revision. It was a clarification on what should means in this instance.
Mr. Shelton said well normally, shall is a requirement. Should is either must or may and it is neither requirement.
Mrs. Morgan said yes, we were kind of trying to clarify that should is like must or may. In our guidelines should is an option. That’s now how our guidelines are written. Shall is a must, but should is you can if you want, but if you don’t want to you don’t have to.
Mr. Shelton said if you have shall in your guidelines you can’t clarify it with a should.
Mr. Truax said correct.
Mrs. Morgan said but we clarified the should. In these instances it is really shall. In these instances you don’t have to. So we are clarifying that should to be more specific.
Mr. Schweizer said so in other words it says here in the guidelines the original driveway, design, material and placement where known should be preserved. That is no longer the guidelines because in this case he has a concrete so he must replace it with concrete.
Mrs. Morgan said yes. It was trying to say what does that should mean.
Mr. Shelton said and that’s okay.
Mrs. Morgan said I think that’s what we are trying to say so that we are being fair.
Mr. Schweizer said well I’m trying to just clarify because in this case shall will rule and the guidelines should is not applicable.
Mrs. Morgan said correct. We got more specific on what that should means is how we did it at the time when we passed that clarification. There will be a driveways discussion at the next meeting, so we can dive deeper into that and try to clarify it additionally if we thought the original clarification needs more to it and we can add to that.
There were no other questions on the COA report.
This COA Report was discussed and filed.
17-00413 Certificate of Appropriateness to install cement board siding instead of repairing original wood clapboard at 239 West Park Avenue (David Ibarra - 17-00413/ AU22/1-17.086-COA/HP - JM -Ward 6)
Mrs. Morgan said the Petitioner is not here today for any additional discussion on it. I just left it on the agenda kind of for an update. They uncovered it completely. I went back out. The siding looks in good condition. They were able to finally get ahold of a contractor who seemed willing to do restoration work. I don’t remember who it is. I spoke to that contractor as well. He seems to understand where we are coming from about the corner boards, the drip edge and kind of doing something with the current siding along the center. They took off all the siding and so trying to figure out what was there and whether continuing the siding or doing some type of little crown molding. I gave them both options. They could do either since I couldn’t tell what it would have been and they both seemed historically accurate for that style.
Mr. Schweizer said so there was no additional smoke or fire damage?
Mrs. Morgan said not from what I could tell.
Mr. Miller said the place looks fantastic just with the aluminum siding removed. Even without the repairs it just looks great.
Mrs. Morgan said and the owner is even going to try to continue a similar siding on a rear little porch addition that currently is just some type of modern wood looking thing, so he is going to try to do that. It is in the rear and not visible.
Mr. Miller said well that’s an example of one I think is turning out well. I hope we can give them an award next year because that house is easily awardable. It is just an example of a homeowner that was told things by contractors that don’t really do preservation work and is frightened by potential outlandish expenses, which I don’t think those outlandish expenses are going to come to pass. Thank you for the update.
A) Grants - Rob Vaughan, Chariman
B) Near Eastside Historic District - Jose Garcia, Chairperson
C) Riddle Highlands Historic District - Fernando Castrejon, Chairperson
D) Public Awareness - Dan Miller, Chariman
Mr. Miller said we did have a meeting. We got homework to do some research on some old outstanding violations that are not entered into the city’s system. So these violations could go back some years of things that have happened in the Historic District and haven’t really been addressed. I started working on a couple of mine and, of course, as I’m walking around the neighborhood I just find new ones. I’ve entered a few. A few of them I have not got out to look at yet.
Mrs. Morgan said what I tried to do is there have been several lists kind of floating out there. I tried to compile all of those lists and rank them according to different levels of priority. Level 1 was I looked at who still owns the home, when was it last sold, and trying to see if the people who committed the violation are still the owners of the house. Among those, ones where actually more architectural significant features were impacted, kind as like Level 1. Level 2 would be less historical architectural features or siding, things on the property itself. Level 3 was where we think the property ownership has changed and then again starting with the significant architectural elements and them moving to like the non-significant elements. The 5th level was kind of things affecting the site or things that require a little more research. Currently I am putting most of the satellite dishes in that category and then anything else that needs additional research on it that we just don’t have anything clear cut at this point to go forward with. As Dan said, we divided them up among the 3 members of the group to go out and look at it and see if it is a violation and then enter it into our system so now we are trying to get everything into the current system on how we deal with violations.
Mr. Miller said the ones we divided up were from Level 1, that is it appears to be the same owner and architecturally significant violations such as doors, windows and things like that. Hopefully we’ll see some progress on that. Stephane and Jill also showed us kind of a diagram of the violation process, which has been somewhat straightened out now and that you said the city Legal Department buys into it as something that could be enforceable.
Mrs. Morgan said yes. We have had one go through to hearings with a fine.
Mr. Miller said which address is that?
Mrs. Morgan said 123 Blackhawk for the door. Unfortunately, they are new owners. They were not the owners that did the violation.
Mr. Shelton said so are you saying that the new owners weren’t the ones who put the door in?
Mrs. Morgan said correct.
Mr. Shelton said do they get the fine?
Mrs. Morgan said yes. Well I would clarify the fine is for not responding. If they would have responded early on, we work with people, especially these older things. We can keep extending them. We have cases that have been extended for years, so we are willing to work with homeowners on that. It is when you don’t respond to any of the letters and don’t come in. There are 2 hearings that you are supposed to be at and they didn’t come to any of those. This was cited back in September and so we are now just getting to it. That was with no interaction from the homeowners until just recently. But I do think we are actually now in the process of they came in for a HCOA for a new door.
Mr. Miller said the process that was outlined, you showed us at the meeting, this process, I’m hoping, does result in some sort of a violation being filed that then if the house where to change hands, like a buyer’s attorney would be able to find the violation at some point during the real estate transfer.
Mrs. Morgan said if they do their due diligence to see if there are any violations out there, there is an active violation. It is not automatic, but if we do think there is a potential selling, we put on a fine, but then we will waive the fine in the end, but if they try to pull the transfer deed it pops up in that.
Mr. Miller said I was just thinking of doing whatever we can do to provide some protection for purchasers if there is a violation because they would be held responsible for it.
E) Landmarks - Don Truax, Chariman
F) FoxWalk Design Review - Don Truax, Chairperson
Mr. Truax said I think I told you at the last meeting about the old Waubonsee building and the Coulter Courts. We rejected one and just to report the Council supported the position of the Design Review Committee. But in addition, coming next week before the FoxWalk Design Review Committee is, I’ll call it, a mural.
Mr. Schweizer said or call it public art. It is a mixed media 3D mural kind of art.
Mr. Truax said we already approved what you can do. In any case it went to the Art Commission and then it will come to us. I looked around tonight at the wall and it doesn’t look great, so maybe it will be okay.
Mr. Miller said where will it be installed?
Mr. Truax said on the north side of the Aurora Fastprint building.
Mr. Schweizer said you’ll be able to see it from the New York Street Bridge and from the FoxWalk along the walkway there and the parking lot.
Mr. Truax said there is an awful lot of stuff on there right now and some of it comes off, but some of it will stay. That’s next week.
G) Tanner/Palace Historic District Committee - Dan Miller, Chairperson
Mr. Shelton said the basketball is gone in the alley.
Mr. Schweizer said CMAP, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, is having an open house for their Downtown Aurora Master Plan rollout. That will be Thursday. I believe it is from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Meyer Ballroom of the North Island Center. Mayor Irvin will be giving a speech at 6:00 p.m. If you are interested in urban planning and the Downtown Master Plan, I would imagine it would be great to show up there and give your input. The Master Plan was last updated in 2007, I think, so it has been a long time. The last draft I saw was 60 pages full of really good things over downtown Aurora.
Mr. Schweizer said speaking of town halls, if you are following our local politics, we have a new Mayor and he has a transition team and a number of sub-committees who are working on a transition plan. There was a Town Hall meeting earlier this week at the Waubonsie Valley High School where about 75 to 100 people showed up. It was well attended. There is another one coming up, I believe, Monday at West Aurora High School at 6:00 o’clock if you would like to give your input into areas such as arts, culture and recreation or economic development or intergovernmental agencies kind of stuff.
Mr. Truax said I went to a meeting for the Chicago Suburban Preservation Alliance in May. I learned a few things. It was in Lombard. They talked about some of the incentives that were particularly interesting to me as part of the FoxWalk Design Review Committee. One of them is there is some wonderful restaurant capability buy-offs that if you open a restaurant and spend enough time in it you don’t have to pay some of the fees.
Mr. Schweizer said speaking of restaurants, have you all been to Endiro Coffee on Restaurant Row? It is pretty well done. The historic building that they are in looks very great. Even the sign looks pretty cool.
Mrs. Morgan said we didn’t necessarily put this on the official action items since we don’t have anything to really act upon, but we did want to discuss the solar shingles that Jim had brought up at the last meeting. I printed out for kind of background information and how zoning talks about solar shingles and other sustainable things and how it fits within zoning. Then the guidelines, the sections that really affect solar shingles, roof and roof elements, and we have satellite dishes, antennas and solar panels, which doesn’t really talk about solar shingles, except it does note innovations in solar power may be allowed upon the review and approval of the Aurora Historic Preservation Commission. However, we do allow, obviously, fiber asphalt or fiberglass shingles as well, so the idea is the solar shingles are really more fitting into that section since they look like asphalt. Then I took some of the pictures that Jim had sent us as well as some other ones that I found online to try to give us an idea of what they look like. I would love to see one in person. I asked Alex if he had seen any of these in person and he had not. I know kind of from what I was looking at, it looks like they are getting better. It looks like Tesla’s are going to be almost replicating.
Mr. Schweizer said I did have a chance to talk with the only solar representative of an independent contractor at Green Fest, and he kind of indicated that while Tesla is way ahead of the pack, Tesla being the kind of company it is, they want you as their customer soup to nuts. Today they want you to do the solar panel on the roof and the battery packs in the house and the car plugging into all of that, so they are kind of looking at it as more of a package deal. Whether that is for the next 2 or 3 months or a year or two, Tesla may not be the best choice as an independent contractor. Obviously a Tesla company representative would probably tell you something completely different, but from his perspective we’re still very early in the game in terms of solar. It is going to get out quickly and it is probably going to involve a lot more manufacturers than just Tesla. So the independent contractors at this point are taking a somewhat wait and see attitude toward them. Not that we shouldn’t get very excited because this is pretty cool technology and it is coming, it is just a question of how quickly it is adopted. Illinois is probably not the greatest state in terms of the amount of solar availability that we have. I look at Germany and they are getting almost 100% renewable energy right now, so it can be done, it just a question of a will to do it.
Mrs. Morgan said I did mention it to Stephane. She wondered about whether or not we needed to make clarifications to the guidelines, kind of like we did with the cement board. At this point whether we could kind of say it already fits in there under the shingle portion and just let staff review it if it comes up. One hesitant is trying to get too specific if we do want to add anything because of how it could be advancing and changing rather quickly over the next few years.
Mr. Schweizer said I do want to kind of point out that the guidelines that we have are aging and if we are still talking about 80’s and 90’s technology and if we are actually looking forward to the 2020’s, maybe we should be at least talking about changing the verbiage away from things like solar panels and verbiage that more accurately reflects where the market is today so that if somebody is looking at Aurora as a potential place to invest they don’t say well they don’t have their act together. It would be better if they looked at the historic guidelines and said this city gets it. This is where I want to invest.
Mr. Shelton said I think that’s a good topic along with security as far as we have a lot of regulations that have you keep the glass doors and down the road people are going to be looking at what’s the right way to give your house the protection from burglars and so on and so forth. So that’s something else I think we need to look at along with this because there are different technologies out there that can give you secure homes and we talked satellite dishes and there are cameras that can go up and how does that look and what do we feel about that. I think Jim is right on as far as looking at the technologies that are emerging and how the populace is moving. It is something really important to look at.
Mrs. Morgan said I did try to kind of go through and just Google solar shingles in historic preservation guidelines. The ones I found were pretty vague about allowing them.
Mr. Schweizer said actually that would be good for us because we could position ourselves as a market leader. Preservation doesn’t often get the chance to do that. It would be nice if we could say in City Council one day look at what your Preservation Commission is doing. It is out ahead of the game and by the way we need more money for grants for window repairs.
Mrs. Morgan said some of them still prohibited them on the front façade. A lot of them still prohibit them on the front facades. Some of them where panels were prohibited outright allowed solar shingles on the side and exterior sides, but none of them got specific from what I found.
Mr. Schweizer said it is early in the game, but if we can be the market leader let’s do it.
Mr. Truax said my concern is architectural integrity. Some of the slate ones look pretty good.
Mrs. Morgan said the slate, I think, is Tesla’s. The slate one, I’m like I don’t even need that in solar shingles. If we could get any shingles that looked like that, that would be great.
Mr. Schweizer said don’t forget though that asphalt shingles were invented around 1911. My house wouldn’t have had asphalt. My house probably had wood shake. Is it going to go back to the original? I’m never going to put a wood shake looking roof back on my house.
Mr. Miller said my house was built in the 20’s and I don’t see any evidence that it ever had wooden shakes on it. The roof is tongue and groove boards that fit together so there are gaps between them.
Mr. Truax said it wouldn’t be shake then.
Mr. Miller said it wasn’t shake. It probably always had the asphalt shingles.
Mr. Schweizer said but that’s just an example of the technology changing.
Mr. Miller said well given where the current, at least the pictures we are looking at here, I can see a case for doing some of them as almost like a solar panel. I mean they are shiny and look like glass and the Tesla shingles, I can’t tell the difference from these pictures. If we allow asphalt and fiberglass shingles on homes that originally had wooden shingles, I don’t know why we would not allow these Tesla shingles. They look better than the materials that we are allowing now. I can see a different way of interpreting these depending on what the material looks like.
Mrs. Furneaux said what is the cost?
Mr. Schweizer said if you talk with Tesla, it will be on par with the cost of the regular asphalt. The kicker is then you have a 30 year guarantee of power coming out of your roof and a 30 year roof in addition to the power that you are also getting.
Mr. Shelton said I thought the cost was more associated with they have to come in and evaluate your need for.
Mr. Schweizer said well that’s where the independent contractor was saying Tesla wants to come in and give you a soup to nuts.
Mr. Truax said well you’d still have to have that.
Mr. Shelton said and then they tell you what size system that you will need. What you do is they’ll take a look at your electric bill and how much you consume and then based off of that they’ll go back and say well you need this kind of system to replace these kilowatts.
Mr. Schweizer said it is actually a little more complicated than that because not all of your roof will actually be solar shingles. In fact, depending on how your roof is structured, you might only have 30% of your shingles be actually solar and the rest of them are going to be regular shingles, so it depends on the pitch.
Mr. Shelton said I understand what you are saying, but from a power standpoint, there is an organization in Illinois that was kind of pushing, and it wasn’t Tesla, and that’s how they determine what you need. The amount of shingles, that’s the configuration, but when you buy the system, it is based off of your electrical needs because that’s why you are doing it. You are not doing it to replace shingles. You are doing it to replace electricity based off your electrical demand.
Mr. Schweizer said it really depends on your point of view.
Mr. Shelton said it depends on the design of the system and why you are getting it.
Mrs. Morgan said I read one article that thought that when you add everything in that it is not on par with just basic shingles. It is still going to be more expensive than that.
Mr. Schweizer said well I think we are still really early in the game, but I think it something that we should be out front of. I think we should be pro-active rather than reactive to this.
Mr. Truax said I think we probably have somebody on the committee who would like to follow that for us and keep us up to date. Mr. Schweizer said I certainly would. It is not just shingles though. They are talking about building applied photovoltaics, so it could be the siding coming next. You could find parts of your driveway could actually be solar. It is not just shingles on the roof. It is literally from your lawn ornaments to wind chimes in your trees that are actually generating power. It is pretty cool the different ways that renewable energies are working into homeownership now.
Mr. Truax said there are a lot of regulations about wind power and where you can put them and all of that too.
Mr. Schweizer said but, at the same time, everything is changing.
Mr. Miller said thanks for keeping us up to date.
A motion was made by Mr. Schweizer, seconded by Mr. Truax, that the meeting be adjourned. The motion carried by voice vote. Mr. Miller adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m.