Modern on the Cheap

Washington Post article on the search for affordable Modern housing. See:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701588.html

On Attending the October DRC Meeting

By Liz Brigden

While I wouldn’t say observers were welcomed warmly at the DRC meeting of October 4, at least two of the members were cordial. Finding no “executive session” in progress on our arrival shortly before eight o’clock, we encountered DRC member Ray Goodrow who informed us that the executive session idea was kaput and that the meetings are now open to all, beginning to end. Shortly after the meeting began, DRC Chairman Judd Ginsberg noted that the Levy/Collins new construction (1816 Drury Lane) was off the night’s agenda because neighbor notification was not completed. (CAHH Vice President and DRC liaison Pam Koger-Jessup had kindly notified us beforehand that this was the case.) Items remaining on the agenda included, in this order, the Tellier/Pereira addition, the Altman-Ogilvie renovation, and the Laws shed, plus a considerable amount of miscellaneous business.

1. Tellier/Pereira residence, 2205 White Oaks, addition: the owner reported that neighbor notification was complete and that the requested box gutters had been added to the plan. After a very brief discussion approval was finalized and the permit is to be issued this weekend.

2. Altman-Ogilvie residence, 2312 Kimbro, remodeling: The nature of the project was a bit confusing to those of us who had not been at the prior meeting at which the renovation was first discussed, and because the plans and photographs, etc. were not accessible to onlookers—they weren’t hidden certainly, but jumping up and peering over shoulders would have been awkward and disruptive. (Oh for the day when the power-point style presentation becomes the norm for the DRC–just imagine!) The owner and architect presented two alternative plans for the renovation, the more complex of which was encouraged by DRC member Andrew Cheng who felt that the owner would be much happier with that solution on visual grounds, and added that the committee would be prepared to give tentative approval to it. The owner responded that he was reluctant to commit to that version prior to doing the pricing for it. In the end approval was given for either of the versions, pending neighbor notification. (Here as in other cases, the committee identified specific homeowners to be notified).

3. Laws residence, 7304 Rippon Road, shed: The committee asked the owner to return with a plat showing the site and footprint of the shed and a scaled drawing incorporating several suggested design-revisions, to which the owner was very receptive.

In addition to the above items on the formal agenda, there were numerous others inserted. Discussion included:

1. Brick facing on the Oliver house, 7312 Rippon. Information had been requested on corner detailing and the treatment of the new brick finish. Both issues were covered, with the corner detailing deemed satisfactory and samples of the tumbled brick facing provided and approved.

2. Judd Ginsberg suggested (in an aside) that the committee needed an archivist and a site to store committee records.

3. Pam Koger-Jessup brought photographs of her deck and asked for the committee’s advice on repair and renovation (including replacement in-kind of visible plastic rain-protection). The committee asked that her request for replacement in-kind be withdrawn, preferring to take no action until the project was reworked and an estimate given for construction/repair without the plastic protectors.

4. Several neighbor complaints were discussed that had to do with items deemed by the committee to exist somewhere in the border area between structures clearly within the DRC’s purview and those outside of it. Serious concern was expressed by members of the committee about two causes of complaint and it was agreed that because of the matter of the “gray area” no action would be taken at present, but that letters would be sent to the offending parties. One of the structures objected to was a little “house” said to be built to receive mail and the other an accumulation of gardening and building materials.

5. The matter of the covenants’ applicability was raised very briefly in regard to the question of at what point those houses in areas formerly considered exempt actually became subject to and bound by the covenants.

6. The committee discussed how candidates for the next opening on the DRC would be interviewed and selected. Pam Koger-Jessup opined that the CAHH Board should do the interviewing and selecting. Ray Goodrow asked why she thought that the members of the Board were better suited to this task than the members of the DRC. Pam then proposed that the Board make the final decision on new members. Pam was advised to invite any Board members who wished to to attend interviews conducted by the DRC. Andrew Cheng encouraged the selection of an architect in the next round because his tenure is up a few months after Ray’s.

7. The new form and worksheet to be available online for petitioners to the DRC was discussed and it was generally decided that the form was presently incomplete and in need of refinement.

8. The committee updated their checklist on the progress of a variety of construction projects throughout the community.

The committee also discussed a tree house project in the neighborhood and agreed to look into the matter.

In the end, it was a long, hard-working session, adjourned at about 10:18 p.m. My husband John, who also attended the meeting as an observer, agreed with me that it was an interesting and educational experience, and that we would recommend it to all, most especially to those who have projects in mind or upcoming and who would like to know more about how the committee operates and what materials the committee must have in hand in order to review a project, whether it be a major renovation, an addition, or a small item such as a shed. One problem that the members of the committee unanimously stressed was that all too often petitioners come unprepared. Attending a DRC meeting is one opportunity, along with the necessary reading of the Design Review Guidelines, to prepare oneself to present a plan.

I do have a couple of minor suggestions for the committee. First, that they provide copies of a revised agenda to attendees, and second, that they think seriously about acquiring the necessary equipment to make power-point style presentations possible.

Editor’s note: for official agenda and minutes of DRC meetings, please see the DRC page on the Civic Association’s website: http://www.hollinhills.org/drc/

NYT’s piece on Montclair, NJ

Concern about the noticeable increase in teardowns in a New Jersey community, chronicled in the New York Times.