NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW BOARD

Minutes of the meeting held on June 11, 2014

The Newtown Township Historical Architectural Review Board met on Wednesday morning, February 12, 2014 in the Township meeting room. In attendance and voting were: William Mahler, Chairman, Michael Crane, Peggy Driscoll, Douglas Terry and Township Building Inspector Kurt Jensen. Also in attendance were Martin Vogt, Code Enforcement Officer and Patty Powers, Administrative Assistant.

Call to Order: The meeting was called to order at 9:30 AM.

Approval of Minutes: Mrs. Driscoll moved to accept the minutes of February 12, 2014.  Mr. Terry seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

Promenade at 200 North Sycamore Street
Vincent Keegan, project manager for The Promenade, was in attendance to review possible changes to the façade of the two new buildings at 200 North Sycamore Street. The plans include a three story, multi-tenant, mixed use building, with associated landscaping and parking and a smaller, single story building.
Mr. Keegan said that some changes have been made to the appearance of the building which had been granted a certificate of appropriateness in 2009. He was unfamiliar with the HARB process and requirements but intended to work with HARB to insure that any changes to the façade would still be compliant.
He showed the Board an artist’s rendering of the proposed façade.
Mrs. Powers noted that the Board had been provided with copies of the 2009 renderings and minutes from the HARB and Board of Supervisors granting the certificate of appropriateness for that plan.
Mr. Mahler explained that all of the colors and styles of the new building must conform to historic colors and designs, however, as this is new construction, modern materials can be used. The past approval had named specific colors for the bricks, sidings, windows and railings. Wrought iron railings were to have been used.
Mr. Keegan said that he believed the railings would be commercial grade aluminum, but would be designed and painted to give the appearance of wrought iron.
Mr. Mahler said that the 2009 approval dealt with the use of stone, brick and siding and named specific colors. HARB would require samples of all again, in order to consider the changes. He noted that member Harriet Beckert had been very involved with all earlier plans for this site and had some very specific questions and comments. He shared a copy of her letter to the Board with Mr. Keegan and asked that her comments be included in the record as follows:
“It is important to remember that we have to decide what is appropriate for our historic district, particularly Sycamore Street and not what is generally historic. For example, brick was used extensively in many historic areas, however, on Sycamore Street it was rarely used probably because there were several stone quarries in the area. Sycamore Street consists mainly of smaller structures, sometimes joined by infill, and we would like to maintain this appearance in the district.
Finally this project is next to the Presbyterian Church which is arguably the most important historic structure in Newtown.
First I would like to commend the applicant for:
1. Varying the architectural styles so that the building appears to be a series of smaller buildings rather than big box.
2. Using architectural styles that are similar to those used in the local area.
3. Using a variety of setbacks for the entrances, again to appear to be a series of buildings.
4. The use of arches and columns, which were used in Newtown.
5. Giving the appearance of varied roof heights and lines, again to appear to be a series of buildings.
6. Bringing the front of the building up closer to the street and making it appear to be more walker friendly.
I also have some concerns:
1. I cannot tell if the two white structures, are covered with stucco or clapboard siding or something else. Stucco would be OK but clapboard
siding is the most commonly used material on Sycamore Street. Would it be possible to do one of each material for more variety?
2. Three brick facades are too much brick as stated above. I would limit brick to 1 façade and face the other two in stone or clapboard siding.
There definitely should be stone on one of the facades.
3. I really cannot tell if the colors (brick, shutters, trim, roof) are appropriate. They should vary with each building and be historic.
Any change in color on the exterior would need a new COA.
4. Shutters on more of the second and third floor windows would soften the building and make it look less modern.
5. I really cannot see the side views but they will be visible from the street and should follow the same general guidelines as the front.
6. The railings should be black wrought iron or the equivalent similar to the rest of Sycamore Street. In some places they look like aluminum
and that would be much too modern. Will the railings on the balconies be the same?
7 The doorways and windows on the balconies are difficult to see. They should be appropriate and in proportion. I think that large sliding glass doors would be inappropriate and too modern.
8. I like the small pent roofs but will there be a problem with lighting the signs? We would want goose neck or up lighting.
9. The windows are difficult to see. I assume that the trim is white or light and they should be true divided light.”

Mr. Mahler asked whether the new plans would use clapboard of stucco.
Mr. Keegan said that the new plans would use siding and brick; no stucco would be used. He would look into incorporating more stone, as suggested in Mrs. Beckert’s letter.
Mr. Vogt said that the Township would need a list of all proposed changes of color or materials for comparison to existing approvals.
Mr. Keegan said that he would attempt to comply with this request. He had some questions before attempting to put together a package of samples. He asked whether the Board would want grills in the windows. The project will be using Marvin Integrity windows.
The members agreed that the windows should have divided lights; sliding doors on the apartments should also have divided lights.
Mr. Terry said that the Board would need to see samples of brick colors as well as roof color samples. He noted that the original approvals had mentioned a variety of brick colors for the façade.
Mr. Keegan asked for a timeline for approval. He is eager to begin construction of the site, which has been delayed for many years.
Mr. Mahler said that the Board would next meet on July 9, 2014 at 9:30 AM. It would then bring any recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for consideration on July 25, 2014.
Mr. Crane noted that HARB would also need to approve any lighting proposed. It appears that the façade lights will be appropriate from the rendering submitted, but samples will need to be reviewed.
Mr. Jensen showed a current photograph of Goodnoe’s Corner, pointing out that these mixed use buildings were new construction compliant with HARB requirements. He suggested looking there for some idea of ways to comply with historic colors and designs using modern materials.
Mr. Keegan agreed to familiarize himself with the HARB requirements and return with samples of materials and colors.

Planning Commission Report: Mrs. Driscoll reported that Beneficial Bank, 34 South Sycamore Street, came to the Planning Commission with a sign package for Zoning Hearing Board approval. The Commission recommended that the Supervisors oppose the package as presented, as it included seven large signs. The Commission also recommended that Beneficial familiarize itself with HARB signage guidelines. Although the Bank is not in the historic district, it is surrounded by the district and is visible from the district. The Commission asked the Bank to attempt to blend in with its historic surroundings.
Mrs. Driscoll understood that the Bank has continued its application and is making some revisions.

Old Business
Mr. Mahler said that HARB had approved only one sign for Team IT on Sycamore Street, but he has noticed that the building now has three signs.
Mr. Vogt said that the building fronts two different streets and is entitled to two signs. He would look at the site to note any possible violations.

Mr. Mahler moved to adjourn at 11:20 AM. Mrs. Driscoll seconded and the motion passed 5-0.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary