Shiver Me Timbers
The village’s Historic District Review Board took up the shed last Wednesday evening, reviewing an application for a certificate of appropriateness (the original had expired). But consternation and controversy then reigned.
Beth Sigler and Paul Henderson bought a small house at 14 Stone Street, a house that had been divided into apartments and which they have renovated over the past seven years. Henderson stated that the house was purchased in part for the shed. The shed would provide storage, and they were informed it could be torn down and rebuilt.
In August 2008 they submitted an application to replace the old garden shed with a new garden shed in the existing location.
The shed was to be used for storage, as they currently have to keep bicycles in their living room, Henderson said. “We never intended to use the shed as a shop, and it would not have electricity, water or heat, but the intended use would be for storage, potting plants, starting seeds and an occasional small project with our children.”
Chair Al Zgolinsky, perhaps anticipating high interest in the shed, went over the rules on public comment. He asked attendees to address all comments to the Board and not to others in the audience, and he wanted the comments to be germane to the Historic Review Board, not to other matters before other boards.
After hearing the applicant, Zgolinsky asked whether anyone had not reviewed the plans, and allowed five minutes for that.
Most of the neighbors felt the structure was “tasteful and a vast improvement.” Some neighbors could not be present, but wrote letters of support.
However, Susan Peehl and Andrew Hall, of 13 Fair St., whose land borders the shed, were extremely unhappy. Peehl spoke first and expressed extreme contempt for the shed. She engaged Zgolinsky in a dust up over what the purview of the Board was. “They tore down a shed,” she said. “Granted, it may not have looked nice, but it was preexisting and non-conforming. They tore it down completely 100 percent, and put it in the dumpster, so instead they put their architecturally relevant, I guess, structure in its place…”
Zgolinsky tried to rein her in, and stick only to issues for the Historic Review Board.
She continued with the issue of how much bigger the shed is now compared to the original.
Zgolinsky repeatedly interrupted her, “Susan, can I speak?” He stated that what was happening with the shed is a matter of enforcement by the Village Code Officer and the Planning Board.
As the conversation continued, Peehl continue to voice her vehement opposition to the shed, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be railroaded,” she said at one point.
Zgolinsky tried to persuade her, ‘Susan, is this the Zoning Board of Appeals?”
Peehl continued to vent her frustration and stated that the boards were in place not only to protect the owner’s rights, but the other property owners’ rights as well, “This thing is now intruding right on our fence line…”
Peehl, when pressed, finally got to the heart of the matter, “I think it’s completely inappropriate to have 8 by 10 foot bank of windows in the historic district, where there is nothing else like that except the church, I think that’s totally inappropriate….this is a modern building trying to look historic, towering over a neighbor’s lawn and obscuring the view of other historic buildings.”
Another member of the board, Peter Downey, put in: “We are not going to sit for an hour and listen to this.”
In the end, it was unanimous to issue the certificate of appropriateness for the shed. Peehl closed her eyes as the Board was polled.
The shed is under the Planning Board’s review.