Historic District Minutes 06-15-2021

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                                 CITY OF MUSKEGON
                           HISTORIC DISTRICT COMMISSION
                              SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES

                                          June 15, 2021

Chairperson S. Radtke called the meeting to order at 4:01 p.m. and roll was taken.

MEMBERS PRESENT:              T. Emory, Muskegon, Michigan; A. Riegler, Muskegon, Michigan;
                              K. George, Muskegon, Michigan; D. Gregersen, Muskegon,
                              Michigan (arrived late); S. Radtke, Muskegon, Michigan

MEMBERS ABSENT:               None

STAFF PRESENT:                J. Pesch; C. Cashin; O. Bailey (CNS); A. Briggs (CNS); S. Carson
                              (CNS)

OTHERS PRESENT:               T. Tollenaar (contractor), 1305 Jefferson St.

NEW BUSINESS

Case 2021-24 – 1305 Jefferson – Windows
Applicant: City of Muskegon Community and Neighborhood Services Department (CNS) -
District: Campus - Current Function: Residential

J. Pesch presented the staff report. The property owner had applied for a program through the
City of Muskegon’s Community and Neighborhood Services Department (CNS) for a lead
abatement project at the house, which led to the request to remove and replace 27 windows of 12
different sizes. Wood replacement windows had already been purchased and were of the same
overall dimensions, but did not match the appearance of the house’s current windows.

K. George was excited to see that lead abatement funds were being directed to the house, making
the community safer. O. Bailey stated that she was grateful that the HDC understood the
importance of addressing lead in households with children under the age of six with elevated
blood levels, and that this household represented that along with additional health concerns; CNS
was in the process of moving the family out of the house and into a hotel until abatement work
was completed. O. Bailey noted that the windows had lead paint and that the State Historic
Preservation Office (SHPO) had responded to the project summary shared with them with a
determination that the work would have no adverse effect.

A. Riegler asked that Staff explain the conversation with the SHPO regarding the replacement
windows. J. Pesch explained that he received a Section 106 Review letter from the SHPO that
stated that the lead abatement work proposed for the house would have no adverse effect based
on the state statute, however that statue specified that work with no adverse effect was defined as
not being in violation of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. J. Pesch
further explained that he communicated via informal emails with an architect with the SHPO
who clarified that their determination of no adverse effect was made based on the information
that they had at the time; in this case, that information did not include images of the proposed
windows (which, at that point, had not been ordered) and was instead based on the project
specifications stating that “New windows must comply with Historic Perservation guidelines, i.e.
match the size, design, proportions, profile and whenever possible, materials of the existing
windows.” J. Pesch noted that while he did share a photo of the proposed replacement windows
with the SHPO architect, they were unable to provide specific comments as the decision to
approve or deny installation of the windows was a local decision that would need to be made by
the City of Muskegon Historic District Commission. The HDC was not bound by the SHPO’s
determination that the project will have no adverse effect, and the Section 106 Review letter
would not overrule any HDC decision nor replace the required HDC review of the project.

A. Riegler noted the gap in information that existed during the SHPO review of the project and
asked if the contactor for the project was provided with the same project specifications shared
with the SHPO. J. Pesch stated that the same information was shared with both, but that the
contractor had been unaware that the work would require HDC review until very recently. He
noted that the contractor did the best that he could to order replacement windows which met the
project specifications, but that at no point was there conversation between the HDC, the HDC
Staff Liaison, and the contractor prior to the purchase of the windows. A. Riegler asked if the
replacement windows ordered did not meet the parameters of what the SHPO approval allowed.
J. Pesch explained that the Section 106 letter was written in November of 2020 before the
replacement windows had been purchased, and that the SHPO would not be involved with the
project at this time. Based on the documents shared by the SHPO, the proposed replacement
windows would meet the definition of an adverse effect on the historic nature of the property.
The SHPO also shared their specifications for replacement windows with Staff:

       “Existing original windows should be repaired rather than replaced. If these windows are
       beyond repair, or documented lead levels preclude reuse, then the replacement windows
       must match the size, design, proportions, profile, and where possible materials of the
       existing original windows. If sash replacements are used in lieu of replacement windows,
       they must match the size, design, proportions, profile and material of the existing sash,
       with no modern materials exposed. Aluminum or vinyl clad sashes are not generally
       acceptable. If true divided light windows are not used, grilles must be permanently
       affixed to both the interior and the exterior of the windows. Enclosed is a copy of
       Preservation Brief #9: “The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows” that provides further
       guidance on this issue. Vinyl windows generally do not meet these requirements.”

J. Pesch noted that, while the proposed replacement windows were wood windows and met the
overall dimensions of the existing windows, they did not match the design of the existing
windows as the mullion patterns varied and grills were only affixed to the interior of the
windows.

J. Pesch stated that as the proposed replacement windows did not follow national-level standards,
they would also not follow the State’s standards as both standards were the same.

D. Gregersen arrived at 4:12p.m.

A. Riegler asked if the project’s funding would be put in jeopardy if the work did not follow the
State’s standards. J. Pesch explained that, based on his understanding, the Section 106 Review
letter only offered a recommendation, but he was not sure if funding would be affected. O.
Bailey stated that in past projects where it was determined that there would be an adverse effect,
the SHPO provided an outline of what would need to be done in order to receive approval for the
funding. S. Radtke stated that it seemed the project was structured in a way that the HDC had the
final say. O. Bailey explained that, based on the information presented at the meeting, the SHPO
would not be reversing their determination that the work would have no adverse effect.

K. George explained involvement in a past project where the work did not meet SHPO standards
so alternate funding sources were sought, and asked the contractor if he assumed that ordering a
wood window would meet the project specifications and if the grills were affixed to the inside of
the glass and between the panes. T. Tollenaar confirmed that this was correct. Given those
conditions, K. George and T. Tollenaar agreed that there would be no way to alter the mullion
pattern of the proposed replacement windows.

J. Pesch stated that he was unsure if there was a situation in which the determination of no
adverse effect could be revisited by the SHPO or reversed. O. Bailey said that such a change had
never happened in her experience. K. George stated that while the HDC wanted to allow the
abatement work needed at the house to continue, they did not want to make a decision that could
potentially jeopardize the project’s funding source.

J. Pesch asked the HDC why they were concerned that their decision would potentially vary from
what would be approved by the State if all entities were following the Secretary of the Interior’s
Standards for Rehabilitation. A. Riegler replied that there was more discretion in decisions made
at the local level and that the HDC had to review work on a case by case basis; there were a lot
of factors to consider with this project beyond strictly following the Standards. S. Radtke pointed
out that the proposed replacement windows would also not meet the HDC’s local standards.

D. Gregersen asked if there was the possibility to have the proposed replacement windows
installed to allow the family to move back into the house, with the condition that the sashes and
panes are replaced with ones that match the appearance of the house’s existing original windows.
T. Tollenaar stated that the windows were not constructed in a way that would allow for
replacement of just the window sashes and panes – the entire window would need to be replaced.

S. Radtke proposed tabling the case until more information is available regarding how the
HDC’s decision may affect funding availability. J. Pesch expressed concerns that if the HDC’s
decision was influenced by external factors that had nothing to do with local or national
standards or the concerns of the HDC, that would set a precedent where future cases could lean
on similar circumstances to have work approved that doesn’t meet the standards. T. Emory
concurred that she was worried that the decision made has the potential to set a precedent.

S. Radtke stated that the windows were a defining feature of the house. K. George asked the
contractor if they had looked into reordering the correct windows. T. Tollenaar stated that he had
not received an official quote, but did find a company that could create windows that would meet
the standards. S. Radtke asked if the windows that had already been purchased could be returned.
T. Tollenaar said that they could not be returned since they had been ordered so long ago. J.
Pesch presented a drawing of an alternative window design that was provided by the contractor
shortly before the meeting; the design would more closely match the existing windows.

The HDC determined that the east (front) and north facades were very visible from the
surrounding streets, reviewed the existing windows that were to be retained, and determined that
15 windows on those two facades were proposed to be replaced. S. Radtke proposed a
compromise in which the already-purchased replacement windows would be allowed on less-
visible facades. T. Tollenaar stated that the homeowner would likely not be in favor of that as all
the windows would not match.

D. Gregersen asked if there were HDC standards that required replacement windows with
simulated divided light when the originals were true divided light windows. J. Pesch recalled the
SHPO’s specifications for replacement windows, noting that they required doing everything
possible to mimic true divided light windows.

A motion that the HDC deny the request to remove and replace 27 wood windows with new
wood windows of the muntin configuration presented at the June 15, 2021 HDC Special Meeting
was made by A. Riegler, with additional discussion following.

K. George asked if there was a way that the HDC could approve the alternative replacement
window style presented at the meeting that more closely resembled the grill pattern on the
existing windows to allow Staff to give final approval of new windows. S. Radtke pointed out
that the current motion was no longer accurate due to the fact that two different replacement
window styles were presented at the meeting. O. Bailey asked if the motion would need to
include wording that would allow the existing windows to be abated of lead paint and reinstalled.
J. Pesch stated that the motion would not need to address abatement of lead paint and restoration
of the existing windows as that work could be approved by Staff, if HDC review was required at
all.
A motion that the HDC approve installation of 27 replacement windows that meet the size,
design, proportions, profile, and materials of the existing original windows including a grill
pattern that matches the existing windows’ grill patterns as closely as possible and with the
condition that if true divided light windows are not used, grills must be permanently affixed to
both the interior and the exterior of the windows as long as the work meets all zoning
requirements and the necessary permits are obtained was made by A. Riegler, supported by K.
George and unanimously approved with T. Emory, A. Riegler, K. George, D. Gregersen, and S.
Radtke voting aye.

OTHER BUSINESS

Public Comment Period – Time was allotted for public comment with contact information
provided. No comments were received.

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:04 p.m.

JP

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