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Community Preservation Committee Minutes 9/3/2009
Community Preservation Committee
Thursday, September 3, 2009 - 4:30 pm
Community Center Club Room
Chatham, Massachusetts

Committee Members Present:  Bob Denn, Victor DiCristina, John Kaar, Bob Oliver, Ira Seldin, Jordan Popkin, Carol Scott, Cynthia Small and Joanne Taylor
Committee Members Absent:  None

Others present:  George Olmsted; David and Gail Oppenheim, Nat Mason, Peter Taylor, John Pappalardo, Michael and Ann Westgate, Sue Nickerson, Gloria Freeman, Frank Messina, and Jennifer Petit

John Kaar called the meeting to order at 4:30 pm.  
Ira Seldin was introduced as a new committee member representing the Parks and Recreation Commission.  

Item 1.  Minutes:  To be discussed at the next regular meeting

Item 2.  Purpose of Meeting
John Kaar explained that this meeting was being held to vote on two applications which can then be presented at special Town Meetings to be held this fall.  The Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association (CCCHFA) has successfully petitioned the Board of Selectmen to hold a Special Town Meeting in order to seek approval for CPC funding of the Nathan Harding House preservation and renovation project.  

The application from St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church for restoration and preservation of a stain glass window will also be considered.

John Kaar also indicated that funding for these projects, if approved, would come from unspent CPC funds.     

Item 3.  Applications

ST. CHRISTOHER’S WINDOW PRESERVATION - $5,000

George Olmsted provided a review of the application, citing historical information.  He noted that the Chatham Historical Commission (CHC) voted to endorse the historical nature of the window and has provided a letter to that effect.  Research done at the library, the Atwood House Museum, and with the help of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House (UUMH) indicates that the window most likely dates to 1879 when the church was first built.  

The window restoration will include a new mahogany frame, repair of broken elements of the window and sashes, along with weatherproofing to ensure future longevity.  

John Kaar indicated that a deed restriction would be placed on the window to ensure that the window is retained in perpetuity.  

Bob Oliver noted that one member of the CHC cast a dissenting vote as he felt the project should be expanded to include restoration of the two lancet windows below the helix window.  George Olmsted explained that the re-orientation of the sanctuary will place the altar directly below these windows and that the original lancet windows admitted too much light, and would, therefore, cause severe backlighting and visibility problems for the congregation if they remained.  He added that they are currently being used as templates for a new stained glass window and it is hoped that the original lancet windows might be used at the UUMH in the future.  

There were no public comments regarding this application.  

Motion:  Bob Oliver made the following motion, seconded by Joanne Taylor:
        That the CPC approve this application for $5,000 for funding of restoration/preservation of St. Christopher’s stained glass window, conditional on receipt of an appropriate deed restriction.  

        Vote:  Unanimous approval.  

This application / approval will be presented to the selectmen next Tuesday.  Jennifer Petit will prepare the warrant article.  

NATHAN HARDING HOUSE APPLICATION - $185,136

John Kaar explained that this application has been changed to reflect the current ownership (David and Gail Oppenheim) rather than the proposed future ownership of the CCCHFA.  This was done at the suggestion of Town Counsel to simplify the application.  

David Oppenheim provided highlights of the application (which had been discussed at a previous meeting):
  • The project will restore and preserve the three visible external facades of the house
  • The CHC has voted to support this project
  • Budget:  $185,136 for historical restoration.  If all money is not expended, excess will be returned to the CPC
  • The building is to be purchased by the CCCHFA.  It is hoped that a signed P&S will be in place prior to the Special Town Meeting.  A letter of intent has been signed by both parties.  
  • All permits are in place; all permitting boards voted unanimous approval of the project
  • The project is compatible with the town’s Strategic Plan
  • Any CPC funds used in this project will reduce the purchase price paid by the CCCHFA.
John Kaar noted that any work done prior to the Town Meeting vote cannot be reimbursed.  David Oppenheim indicated that he was aware of this.  Work already begun has been to gain access to the basement area.  

John Kaar also indicated that the replication of the barn is an ancillary benefit and not part of the application.  

Jennifer Petit said that contract wording will be taken from the motion and that all payments will be made after receipt of invoices from the project manager.  It is important that all invoices be dated after the date of the Town Meeting vote.  David Oppenheim indicated that he understands this process and indicated that all invoices would be submitted after the work is completed.  

Jordan Popkin asked about the rationale behind changing the applicant from CCCHFA to David and Gail Oppenheim.  John Kaar explained that Town Counsel had suggested this change to simplify the application.  It is appropriate according to the CPA guidelines for the current owner to seek historic preservation/restoration funds.  It is complicated to grant money to an entity that does not own the property.  

The deed restriction will pass with the property to the new owners.  

Other items noted:
  • Three sides and roof (East, South, and West) are part of the historic preservation project.  The north side of the house will be the area of primary access, and not visible to the street.  While it will be treated in a similar/compatible fashion, there may be changes for entrances, ramps, etc. that would not be considered historic preservation.  
  • David and Gail Oppenheim are committed to this project and have offered to provide bridge financing to the CCCHFA if necessary.
Bob Oliver, as representative of the CHC, stated that the CHC does not have jurisdiction of this project but it will be under the purview of the HBDC.  However, the CCCHFA had asked for support from the CHC which voted unanimous support of the project.  Bob Oliver reported that during the CHC discussion, there general support of the restoration design but concern was expressed about monitoring of the project and the possible inability of the CCCHFA to complete the purchase of the property.  Approval of the project was unanimously voted by the CHC with five conditions noted:

1.       A signed Purchase & Sales Agreement to be completed prior to Town Meeting vote.

2.      Public access to be guaranteed.  There was considerable discussion about this condition and general agreement that the restoration project involved only exterior elements, so public access could be defined as visual access to the structure.  Discussion included notes that tall fences, large signs and screened landscaping would all be inappropriate as they would restrict visibility of the historic structure.  

3.      A deed restriction must be developed.  

4.      The restoration should comply with Department of Interior (DOI) guidelines.  

5.      Additional funding should be included ($5,000 suggested) for a clerk of the works or project consultant to ensure compliance with DOI guidelines.  



David Oppenheim responded to the five CHC-suggested conditions:
  • A P&S is being developed
  • A deed restriction has been agreed to by all parties
  • Public access:  the project was being done to allow re-use of the historic house for commercial purposes.  He indicated that public access to the interior would not be appropriate.  (Other discussion confirmed general agreement that visual access to the exterior would meet the condition for public access noted by the CHC.)  
  • DOI guidelines:  He expressed willingness to work with the town or a consultant regarding compliance with DOI guidelines, but added that constant monitoring and completing an application/hiring process would slow the project too much.  He suggested that final approval would be a more efficient method of handling this issue.  Any work, once completed, that did not satisfy the DOI guidelines would not be reimbursed or would need to be re-done.  He expressed willingness to do this at his own risk, based on previous restorations with when he has been involved.  
There was discussion about future sale of the property by CCCHFA.  It was generally agreed that the exterior historic restoration would remain a benefit to the town, regardless of ownership of the structure.  John Kaar stated that he was not in favor of a condition which tied the project to specific ownership or type of ownership, i.e., a non-profit.  

David Oppenheim noted that the property is zoned Small Business (SB) which is a fairly restrictive zoning classification.  Special zoning approvals would be needed for a variety of uses of the building.  He indicated that retail is not allowed without ZBA approval.  A special permit was needed to allow “office and educational uses.”  There are also restrictions on signage and lighting which will aid in ensuring that the visual access is maintained.  

Discussion turned to oversight of DOI guidelines.  Frank Messina said that the town has used Allan McClennan as a consultant to monitor several historic projects (Railroad Museum and the MCI renovation).  John Kaar stated that a clerk of the works is probably not necessary, but a consultant could be helpful.  David Oppenheim noted that the historic guidelines are sometimes in conflict with code requirements and compromises must be made.  He cited the example of the existing porch railing which is too low to meet code requirements.  

Public Comments:

Michael Westgate, a CCCHFA board member, thanked the committee and others for time spent on this project.  He said it is their expectation that CCCHFA will occupy this space for at least then next 50 years.  The building will also house activities related to the newer Cape Cod fisheries Trust.  The current CCCHFA offices are overcrowded and rent paid is $45,000 per year.  He added that the CCCHFA will benefit directly from a CPC contribution to this project.  

Sue Nickerson, Executive Director of CCCHFA, acknowledged the assistance being offered by David and Gail Oppenheim on this project and cited this as a compelling project that has multiple benefits to the community and to CCCHFA.  

David Oppenheim added that they had purchased the property to save the historic home and had now found the perfect occupant.  He reiterated his position regarding payment of funds based on final approval of the work done and noted HBDC jurisdiction over the project.  He also indicated that the visual access will be greatly improved by moving access to the rear of the property and eliminating the current driveway and parking in front of the house.  

John Kaar stated that the final project will need to be approved by the Mass. Historical Commission so someone needs to vet the project.  An expert is needed to confirm the historical elements of the project.  

Bob Oliver made the following motion, seconded by Joanne Taylor:

        That the CPC approve the application for restoration/preservation of the Nathan Harding House in the amount of $185,136 subject to conditions to be approved.  

Discussion:  

There was discussion about relevant conditions and motions were made to add the following conditions.  

Motion:  By Bob Oliver, seconded by Carol Scott:  
 
  • There must be in place a signed Purchase and Sale Agreement between the CCCHFA and the current owner (1566 Main St LLC) by the time of Town Meeting.
Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Motion:  By Bob Oliver, seconded by Carol Scott:  

  • The Town must receive a permanent historic preservation restriction covering the front, sides and roof visible from Main Street, including preservation of view lines. This restriction will be recorded with the property deed and continue in force regardless of changes in ownership.
The motion passed by unanimous vote.  

Motion:  That the CPC authorize an expenditure of up to $5,000 for employment of a consultant to monitor preservation and restoration of the building consistent with DOI guidelines.  

There was discussion of this motion.  Ira Seldin asked if a town employee might be able to provide this level of expertise/monitoring.  John Kaar responded that it is not likely and cited use of Alan McClennen for other CPC projects.  Jennifer Petit indicated that the three-quote procurement process would have to be followed to hire a consultant.  David Oppenheim expressed concern about timeframes involved.  Jordan Popkin said that the CPC should hire the consultant, not the property owner.  David Oppenheim again noted the issue of functional vs. authentic materials and compromises with code requirements.  Energy issues were cited as an example re. windows.  Jennifer Petit suggested that someone could look at the plans to determine conformity with DOI standards.  John Kaar indicated that payment for such a service could come from the CPC’s Administrative Account.  Michael Westgate suggested that an architect work with a CPC member and the HBDC to ensure compliance.  

Bob Oliver amended his previous motion, seconded by Bob Denn:  

Motion:  That the exterior preservation must be completed in accordance with Department of the Interior guidelines on historic preservation.

The motion passed by unanimous vote.  

It was generally agreed that other conditions, i.e., public access / visual access, would be included in the wording of the deed restriction.  

There was brief discussion of the budget and accuracy of the estimated cost of this project.  Sue Nickerson said that the budget is very conservative and has been examined very carefully.  David Oppenheim noted that he has worked with Handren Brothers for many years.  Based on his experience as a contractor, he feels that the materials estimates are accurate and noted that Handren is taking only a 12% mark-up which is less than normal.  

A vote was then taken on the final motion with the three additional conditions:  

        That the CPC approve the application for restoration/preservation of the Nathan Harding House in the amount of $185,136 subject to the following conditions:  
  • There must be in place a signed Purchase and Sale Agreement between the CCCHFA and the current owner (1566 Main St LLC) by the time of Town Meeting.
  • The Town must receive a permanent historic preservation restriction covering the front, sides and roof visible from Main Street, including preservation of view lines. This restriction will be recorded with the property deed and continue in force regardless of changes in ownership.
        -    That the exterior preservation must be completed in accordance with Department of the Interior guidelines on historic preservation.

The motion passed by unanimous vote.  

Jennifer Petit will prepare the warrant article.  
Victor DiCristina will be the presenter for the St. Christopher’s window project
John Kaar will be the presenter for the Nathan Harding House Preservation/Restoration project

Item 7:  Adjournment
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 7:05 pm.  


Marie Williams
Notes by Marie Williams