Next Steps of a Local Historic District: The Historic Overlay District

I hope you are finding my articles on establishing a local historic district to be informative. In the first article I laid out the pros and cons of a local historic district.  In the second article, I have given some insight on what the guidelines could include.   So, what is the next step?

Section 1143 of the Greenhills Codified Ordinances provides for an Historic Overlay District – meaning that any local historic district guidelines that are created would be in addition to the current zoning requirements for those zoning districts.

The first step is the creation of a local district.  The beginning phases of this are currently being planned.  It will consist of a joint meeting of Council and the Greenhills Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission will serve as the official Historic Preservation Commission for the Village unless a separate commission is appointed by Village Council.  Planning Commission is required to seek input from an historic consultant in making decisions that impact any locally-designated district.  This will allow the Planning Commission to learn the importance of the architecture and design guidelines it is responsible for enforcing.

Planning Commission will need to create, review and approve an application form to be used for local designations.  Such designations can be for districts or specific properties. The criteria for designation are outlined in Section 1143.05(e), which you can view for yourself by clicking here. To be considered under that Section for designation, a property or properties must be fifty years old or older and retain integrity of design and materials.  The following criteria will also be considered:

(1)   Its character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the Village, the state or nation.

(2)   Its association with a significant historic event.

(3)   Its identification with a person who significantly contributed to the culture and development of the Village, state or nation.

(4)   Its exemplification of the cultural, economic, social or historic heritage of the Village, state or nation.

(5)   Its embodiment of distinguishing characteristics of a building type or architectural style.

(6)   Its identification as the work of an architect or master builder whose work has influenced the development of the Village, state or nation.

(7)   Its embodiment of elements of architectural design, detail, materials or craftsmanship which represent a significant architectural innovation.

(8)   Its relationship to other distinctive areas which are eligible for preservation according to a plan based on an historic, cultural or architectural motif.

(9)   Its unique location or singular physical characteristic representing an established and familiar visual feature of the Village.

(10)   Its potential to yield information important to prehistory or history (archaeology).

Council and Planning Commission must think about what area or areas should or could be designated and what additional regulations should be incorporated into a designated district or districts.  These are discussions that are an important part of the planning process for a local historic district.  Village Council and Planning Commission may decide to designate multiple properties to create the local historic district.  They can also select property outside of a local district boundary and apply the same architecture and design guideline restrictions to those properties.

All these decisions will be made with input from various groups and individuals.  The Village will continue to work closely with its historical consultant on identifying potential options for a local district and its guidelines, and the Village will soon hold public meetings where residents and property owners may ask questions and provide their own input on this process.  The goal is to create a district of properties that tell the story of Greenhills and will benefit from careful oversight to protect their architectural and design features: the features that make Greenhills unique!

Code Enforcement – Garbage & Refuse Collection

A periodic review of our garbage “dos and don’ts” is always worthwhile.  Such review can be a refresher for long-term residents and a primer for new residents!

Section 939 of the Greenhills Codified Ordinances regarding garbage and refuse can be viewed here.  The Code addresses such things as the types of containers that may be used, the times for setting out containers and for removing containers from the right-of-way; how the containers should be stored; and enforcement mechanisms.  The Village webpage section on trash and recycling can be viewed here.

I think we would all agree that visible garbage is a negative for any property and for the community as a whole!  The vast majority of our residents comply with the Code, but there are those who just don’t seem to notice or care about their garbage.

Village staff are always driving through the Village, but we always appreciate residents who notify us about violations.  To the extent possible, Village staff attempts to reach property owners by phone to inform them of violations.  When that is not possible or not successful, the Village enforces the relevant Code sections in the following ways:

1)         by leaving a written notice at or mailing a written notice to the property owner advising as to the permitted hours for setting out garbage and that any future violations may result in a charge for collection and/or criminal citation.

– OR –

2)         the Village can order the immediate collection of the garbage and then send the property owner written notice of the additional fee incurred for the pick-up and notifying the owner that the garbage was set out in violation and that the cost of the additional pick up shall be paid within 14 days of the notice.  If payment is not made, the Village will in have the cost added to the tax duplicate and collected as a tax lien.       The Village uses this tactic for evictions, excessive amounts of garbage, etc. We act quickly in these situations because it is unsightly and unfair for surrounding residents to have to look at a garbage pile for any amount of time.

Here are some other garbage-related requirements to keep in mind:

Containers should be of a non-rusting material with tight-fitting lids.  Plastic bags may be used for set out, but not for storage during the week.

Containers not be set out until 3 pm the day before collection and must be removed from the streets within 24 hours of collection.

No garbage may be set out in open containers.

Containers must be stored throughout the week either next to the rear wall of a dwelling or garage, or in a confined area screened from view of passersby. Trash handling areas are allowed to be located in front yards if screened with fences or walls, provided that the fence or wall does not extend more than 6 feet from the front of the house and not taller than 4.5 feet in height.  Decorative bushes are also a nice way to screen containers.   disposing of mattresses, sofas, chairs, or other such items – Rumpke requires they be wrapped or placed in plastic bags before they will be picked up.  For your convenience, the Municipal Office stocks the necessary plastic bags in a variety of sizes for $6 each.

If you have large and/or heavy items for pickup, Rumpke would appreciate a head’s up.  Give them a call at 851-0122, ext. 3732, to allow them to be prepared for a large pickup.  While our current contract with Rumpke allows for unlimited household waste, large and bulky items aren’t considered household waste and the collection of such items may be limited by Rumpke.

Tree & Stump Removals Will Start Soon

The Village is just about to embark on a critical component of its tree management plan – tree and stump removal. Removals and pruning are an important part of maintaining the safety of our urban forest. Trees to be removed are identified with an orange dot.  We received some calls from property owners about trees that were possibly marked in error.  Please know that we will check the health of the trees once again before we enter into a removal contract to be sure no mistakes are made. 

New plantings will follow – some this spring and some later in the fall.  In addition to other tree types, we are going to be planting 80 oaks throughout the Village this year in honor of our Village’s 80th anniversary!  Some of the oaks will be planted along the streets – such as Bachman, Burley, and Jack Molloy Lane. A number of them will be planted in our parks and greenspaces.

If a tree is removed in front of your home and not replanted immediately, don’t worry!  Your location is maintained as a future planting location on our new data base. From time to time residents request certain trees.  We try to accommodate these requests, but musts be able to adhere to a plan.  We also have a list of approved street trees.  This list is generated by specialist throughout the State of Ohio who know how to match tree types with tree planting sites.  I have attached our current list of street trees for you to see.

The planting of trees was part of the Village’s development back in the 1930s. I came across a document that identified original tree plantings in Greenhills.  I compiled a list from that document which you can view by clicking here.  It is fun to look at the list and compare it to the trees you see growing along your street.  Many of our original trees are still surviving but we continually supplement the original inventory with new trees to insure we always have our beautiful tree canopy for future generations.

Planting strategies have improved over the years. For example, we no longer plant just one type of tree along a particular street as done originally.  We diversify the selection just a bit to be sure we do not have a total loss of tree coverage as we did – for example – along Gambier with the Emerald Ash Borer disease.  We no longer plant within 10 feet of a driveway, or within 20 feet of another tree.

Always let me know if you have questions about our trees! You can contact me through Ekovach@GreenhillsOhio.org

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What Might Design Guidelines Look Like in a Local Historic District?

In follow up to my first article on this topic, I would like to provide readers with some idea of what guidelines could look like in a local historic district.  I reached out to the Village’s historic consultant for much of this information.  Her assistance is much appreciated!

Right now, guidelines do not exist but would be developed with public input as part of a local district designation.  The purpose of having design guidelines is to ensure that over time, the main elements of a district remain in place.  Guidelines would set broad parameters in which changes could occur, while maintaining ample opportunity for design creativity and individual choice. They would supplement any requirements that currently exist in the Greenhills Zoning Code and would cover renovations to existing buildings, demolition, or new construction.

According to the Greenhills’ nomination for National Landmark Designation, the Greenhills Historic District includes 317 contributing resources. Stylistically, the design and materials of all the major civic and commercial buildings reflect the influence of Stripped Classicism and International style, which provide the Village center with a distinct, architectural unity and civic identity. Most of the residential buildings exhibit a functional, modernistic variant of the International Style, with flat roofs, smooth surfaces and flat-roofed entry porches with simple supports. However, in the A and B sections, a simplified Colonial Revival style predominates, characterized by brick exteriors and gabled slate roofs.

The Village’s historic consultant provided the following EXAMPLES of guidelines.  If the Village does enact a local historic district, these are the types of details that could be incorporated into guidelines and reviewed for building projects within the district boundaries.

Materials – Original materials should be restored and reused whenever possible. Where necessary, missing or deteriorated material should be replaced with recycled or new materials that match the original as closely as possible with regard to: type of material size of unit, color, shape, composition, texture, style, type of joint, placement detailing.

Cleaning/Painting – Cleaning of existing materials should be done by the least damaging method possible. Sandblasting would not be an acceptable method for cleaning. Painted brick buildings, when necessary, should be repainted rather than stripped or cleaned to reveal the natural brick color. The color of trim and decorative detailing on a building should contrast with the wall paint color; i.e., light colored buildings should have darker trim and dark colored buildings should have lighter trim. At no time should the detailing and the trim be painted the same color as the walls.

Windows and Doors – Original window and door openings should not be reduced or enlarged in size. Repaired or replacement windows should be double-hung and contain one-over-one, two-over-two, or six-over-six panes where appropriate. The elimination or permanent concealment of window and door openings on the primary or street facade should not be permitted, and elsewhere avoided. New window and door openings on the primary or street facade should not be permitted. Removable storm windows and doors should be utilized whenever possible. Aluminum storm windows and doors should be painted to match trim.

Appurtenances – All appurtenances, such as shutters, light fixtures, and signs, should be compatible with the building upon which they are to be installed. The installation of canvas canopies and awnings is permissible but should not obscure or require the removal of significant architectural features. Canopies and awnings made of plastic, wood or metal should not be permitted.

Wall Resurfacing – Wood clapboard or brick could be used as the repair or replacement material where appropriate. The use of aluminum or vinyl siding for resurfacing should be avoided. Artificial stone, brick veneer, asbestos, asphalt shingles and other similar resurfacing materials shall not be used. Architectural features such as cornices, brackets, window sills and architraves, and doorway pediments shall not be removed or obscured when resurfacing materials is applied. Siding should be applied horizontally, and all wood siding should be painted.

Roofs – The existing roofline and the architectural features that give the roof its essential character such as dormer windows, cornice, brackets, chimneys and cresting should be preserved. The addition of inappropriate features such as vents, skylights, and rooftop utilities should be avoided, or inconspicuously placed and screened where necessary as determined by the Commission.

Utility System Installation – The installation of utility and mechanical systems such as water or gas meters, central air conditioning cooling units, and elaborate electrical hookups should be inconspicuously placed, and screening should be provided; the installation of such systems should be avoided on the street facade. Wall or window air conditioning units on the street facade should not be permanently installed, but removable window units shall be permitted on a seasonal basis.

Decks – The addition of decks on the street facade shall not be permitted. Decks installed elsewhere shall not obscure or require the removal of significant architectural features. Balusters should be vertically placed not more than 6 inches apart. Solid plank railing shall not be permitted. Railing heights should not exceed 42 inches. Screened or glass-enclosed decks should be avoided.

Walls and Fences – Existing retaining walls and fences should be repaired and retained whenever possible. The installation of wood or chain link fences shall not be permitted on street frontage.

Site – The alteration or removal of existing walkways, steps, benches, and lighting which contribute to the character of the district should be avoided. All new site improvements should be compatible with the architectural character of the district. Tree removal should be avoided.

DEMOLITION

Demolition of existing buildings shall not be permitted unless one of the following conditions exist:

Demolition has been ordered by the Director of Buildings & Inspections for reasons of public health and safety.

The demolition request is for a garage, an inappropriate addition, or a building of a later period as defined and identified in these guidelines; and the demolition of said structure will not adversely affect the streetscape as determined by the Commission.

The owner can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Commission that the structure cannot be reused nor can a reasonable economic return be gained from the use of all or part of the building proposed for demolition..

NEW CONSTRUCTION AND ADDITIONS  

Materials – The type of materials and their color, texture, scale, and detailing should be compatible with those of the District and/or the original building.

Scale – The scale of new work and its constituent parts should be compatible with the District and/or the original building and the scale of its parts.

Form – The shape, massing, and proportions of new work should be compatible with the District and/or the original building.

Height – The height of an addition should not exceed the height of the original building. The height of new buildings should be comparable to the height of existing adjacent buildings. The height of new buildings constructed in undeveloped areas should not detract from the character and appearance of the District.

Setback -The setback of new buildings should be comparable to the setbacks of existing adjacent buildings.

Historic Integrity – Compatibility of new work to original work is required, but imitation of old work in new construction should be avoided. New work should appear to be new work. Where new additions meet original work, the connection should be carefully designed so as not to detract from the original but to also reflect the fact that the connection is new. If original openings are filled in, the outline of the original opening should remain apparent by setting new in-fill material back from the surface and leaving original sills and lintels in place. Historic integrity is to be maintained by designing new buildings, structures, appurtenances, additions, connections and filled-in openings so that they do not appear to have been constructed when the affected historic structure was originally built.

Buildings of a later period are of a different architectural character than the other structures in the historic district due to their age and the different character of their scale, material, and detailing. Additions to, or alterations and rehabilitation of these buildings shall either be compatible with the style and character each possesses or shall cause the above building to become more compatible with the district.

Again, these guidelines are merely an example of what the Greenhills Planning Commission could review prior to approving a proposed building project.  They indicate the level of detail and attention that could be applied to plan reviews for historic appropriateness.

So how would this review process work? When a property owner of a building within the local district seeks a building permit, the proposed project would be forwarded to the Greenhills Planning Commission for review and consistency with the pre-approved design guidelines. Whatever guidelines are made, the Planning Commission would have the authority to allow some modifications, as appropriate, in cases of economic hardship when there is no economically feasible and prudent alternative or environmental change which would conform to the guidelines. In those cases, it would be appropriate for the applicant to demonstrate to the Planning Commission that an economic hardship exists and that alternative changes which do meet the guidelines have been explored. The Planning Commission could approve it with any conditions it may deem appropriate.  After Planning Commission approves the proposed project, the permit would continue to the building department for review.

Design guidelines are intended to guide property owners and contractors into designing and building their projects with respect toward the architectural features that make Greenhills a unique piece of American history!

It’s Pothole Season

If you drive I am sure you have noticed that as winter progresses, road surfaces seem to break into potholes!  There is a reason for that: The freezing temperatures cause asphalt to contract. Then, as the road surfaces thaw it can lead to cracks.  As cracks get bigger, water finds its way into those cracks and makes the pavement even more susceptible to freezing and cracking, eventually leading to chunks of the road surface breaking out more and more with each passing car.

There are a couple of different types of patches our Service Department uses to “fix” potholes.   One is called “cold patch” that actually comes in bags and must be heated as it is put down in a hole.   It is important that the hole is dry, which can sometimes take days!  This type of patch does not last long, but sometimes it is the only choice available.

The other method is known as “hot patch.”  There are only a couple of sources of hot patch in the winter around here – so to use this method, the Service Department takes one of the trucks to the closest location (so the hot patch stays hot) and gets a load of hot asphalt.  This method works the best but requires the entire Service staff to work on patching until the entire load of hot patch is used up.

The Service Department is constantly keeping a running list of potholes to be filled. Just last week, Service filled potholes throughout the Village and in public parking lots.

Crack-sealing is a tool that can help to prevent surface cracks from taking in water.  Crack-sealing is exactly that – cracks are sealed with a tar-like substance. It may not be very attractive on the road or in a parking lot, but it really prolongs the life of the pavement.  This summer we will be crack-sealing Junefield, Carini, and Hadley.

There are a number of streets that will be repaved this summer.  The Village will be having Foxworth and Jewel repaved.  Then, as the water main project wraps up we will be working with the pavement restoration bid obtained by Water Works to share the cost of repaving Japonica, Ireland, and Illona. In the way of explanation – the new water main will run down the center of one traffic lane, so Water Works will pay to have that lane repaved.  To complete the street paving, the Village will have the other lane repaved.