by Noëlle McAfee
I showed up at 7:30 to observe the September 6 Design Review Committee, but board liaison Pam Koger-Jesup informed me that the meeting does not begin until 8:00 and I was not welcome to attend until then. “But you all are here,” I said, noting that they were in fact meeting at 7:30 and that the Hollin Hills website shows the meeting beginning at 7:30. Koger-Jesup indicated she had changed the time on the web site this morning.
I knew that the DRC did not start seeing applicants until 8:00 and I was also aware that the DRC met starting at 7:30 to look over the plans and talk frankly about the applications. It is during this session, I knew from attending it in August, that much of the initial work of the committee takes place.
Standing outside the doors of the Hollin Meadows School building as we waited to be let in, Koger-Jesup and DRC chair Judah Ginsberg said that the committee needed some time to meet in closed session before meeting with applicants. I said that I appreciated this; that they would want some time to prepare before meeting with the applicants, but why couldn’t a civic association member observe this portion of the meeting? And was it a civic association approved policy to hold part of the meeting in private? No, it wasn’t, Koger-Jesup said. It only became their unofficial policy when people started “paying attention.”
So, I waited in the lobby as the DRC met privately and then, along with a few others, joined them at 8:00. Here are my unofficial notes of the meeting. If you only have a minute to read this, take note of the Nordok house case.
7221 Beechwood: Gibber/Harrington – Renovation
Approval with condition that the siding match. Neighbor notification done.
2312 Kimbro – Ogilvie/Altman -Windows
Major interior renovation, not really visible from the street. Reorienting the entire inside upstairs. DRC asked for side elevation and cut sheet on the casements. Conceptual approval pending.
7312 Rippon: Oliver – Masonry Repairs
All of the brick had been painted and is now in bad shape. Owner wants to put on a brick veneer. DRC asking for sample and explanation of what will happen where it returns back (this is a technical term I don’t quite understand). Not approved until more information received and assessed.
2320 Nordok: Rutledge – Shed
Prefab shed, nonconforming, ordered from Home Depot. Shed to rest on ground without pouring concrete. All DRC members seemed to agree that the shed was not in harmony or conformity with the house or community and they spent at least 20 minutes trying to persuade the applicants to do something else. Homeowners replied that they did not want to spend the money for a custom shed and that the shed would not be visible to any other neighbors and that they would remove some of the more offensive features. Applicants reported that neighbors were notified and raised no objections. Despite the DRC Guideline, from which one DRC member quoted, that says that “all non-attached structures should be in harmony with house and site,” DRC approved the structure in a 3 -2 vote. Two of those who voted to approve did so while voicing deep reluctance. The other DRC member who approved it suggested that the shed was not a permanent structure. (If the latter were the case, then the DRC may not have needed to vote on this at all – certainly a better outcome than starting a bad precedent.)
This observer would like to know whether all contiguous neighbors, including those behind the house on Nemeth Street, were notified and approved the Home Depot prefab shed.
Misc Issues & Items
There is now a sample notification letter to be sent to all contiguous neighbors and neighbors with sitelines of house.
Next meeting Wednesday Oct. 4, 8:00 p.m. Hollin Meadows ES library. (Though no doubt the DRC will actually begin meeting at 7:30. Other civic Association members not welcome until 8:00.)
In conclusion, I should say that I am not happy that I was turned away from the first part of the meeting. Certainly the reader can tell that I am a bit sore about this. I think it is really unfortunate that this happened. Apart from this, though, the DRC members themselves have been, especially during their last two meetings, very accommodating, cordial, and open to observers.