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.

 

Recent Heavy Rains & High Water

The recent torrential downpours put Winton Woods Lake at one of its highest levels in the last 10 or so years.  Throughout Greenhills there were a number of wet basements, but overall we were spared.

Many of you may not know that Winton Woods Lake is actually known as West Fork Lake. It is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers and helps to regulate water that flows into the Mill Creek.  This helps to minimize flooding of points south along the Mill Creek. Storm water flowing from Greenhills and points north find their way to the Lake.  In Greenhills, a lot of storm water flows from points north and west toward the back of the shopping center and then into the drainage swale that runs through our golf course.  It is quite a sight to see when the water backs up in an amount sufficient to create a small lake on the golf course!  That water eventually makes its way south to West Fork Lake.

Click here for information on Winton/West Fork Lake from the US Corps of Engineers.

I thought you might also want to know that when heavy rains are occurring is when the Greenhills Service Department checks catch basins to make sure they are clear of debris and flowing well.  They also check the storm water head walls located in the woods to make sure they are open and running.   It’s a cold wet job – and much appreciated!

Tethering Law follow-up commentary

The proposed new tethering law has generated some great conversation!  I would like to follow up my original write up on this topic to clarify some of the concerns that have been raised. Below I am providing the new language that would be incorporated into the Village of Greenhills Codified Ordinances regarding tethering along with some commentary for clarification:


Text:

(a) No owner, keeper, or harborer shall allow a dog to be tethered:

1) for more than six (6) hours in a twenty-four (24) hour period;
2) between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am;
3) when no owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog is present on the premises;
4) in any area where there is an accumulation of feces or other waste, insect infestation, rodent infestation, foul odor, or another unsanitary or dangerous condition within the radius of the tether.
5) if there is a heat or cold advisory or a severe weather warning.

Commentary:  If, perhaps, you are just coming home from a late shift at work and want to let your dog out, or maybe you just want to sit out and enjoy a nice evening – the new law would not pertain to you for a number of reasons.  First, you would have to leave the dog out for more than 6 hours between the stated hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Secondly, the dog would have to be tethered.  There is nothing in this law that prohibits you from letting your dog run in your fenced-in yard.


Text:

(b) No owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog shall use any of the following types of tethers for the dog:

1) A tether of less than 10 feet in length, or less than four times the length of the dog’s body from tip of nose to base of tail, whichever is greater;
2) A tether the length of which allows the dog to cross the property line of the property on which it is tethered;
3) A tether that causes injury or pain to the dog because of the material of which it is made or because of the size or weight of the tether; generally, a tether should not weigh more than one-eight (1/8th) of a dog’s body weight.

Commentary: This section is to ensure humane treatment of the animal and gives the Police a tool if they witness a dog tied out in in-humane conditions.  The Police will not be measuring leashes unless there is a valid reason under this proposed new Code section to do so. There were some very sad instances just this winter of animals freezing to death while tied outside.  With out a law such as the one being proposed, the Police or the SPCA could not enter private property to get an animal to a safe environment.


Text:

(c) No owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog shall tether the dog:

1) by attaching the tether to the dog by means of a choke chain, pinch collar, or prong collar, as they are defined by the Humane Society of the United States;
2) by attaching the tether to a collar that is not property fitted;
3) in an area likely to cause injury or pain to the dog because of entanglement; or
4) in an area likely to cause injury or pain to the dog because of surrounding structures.

Commentary: This section is similar to the one above in that it deals more with the humane treatment of the animal.  It is tool for the Police to take some action if they witness in-humane treatment of a dog.

The Animal Humane Society recommends a standard adjustable plastic clip or buckle collar. They cite a study by Dr. Linda Lord of the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine that showed traditional collars are just as safe as breakaway collars and possibly slightly MORE safe. Some breakaway collars break apart too easily and often, causing frustration for pet and their people. This makes well-fitting traditional collars the better option. For dogs with narrow heads (i.e. Greyhounds, Whippets, etc.) they recommend a Martingale collar.  They do not recommend elastic collars (which tend to stretch over time, losing their proper fit) or choke collars. For additional information, visit their website.

All other sections of Chapter 505 remain the same.

One of the complaints that led to this legislation involved a barking dog that was tied out at the rear of someone’s yard night and day.  The dog was confined to an area that was unsanitary. The dog stopped barking when the Police showed up.  There was nothing that could be done to help the situation.  There are many other similar situations that – if Council approves this legislation – would enhance the quality of life for many in the Village of Greenhills!

 

2017 In Review

Village Council held their annual retreat on February 3rd.   This is always a productive meeting! The retreat started with a review of 2017.  Here are just some highlights of things we accomplished in 2017:

By far the biggest undertaking of the year was the start of demolition on 4 deteriorating structures in the “C” block, and everything that led up to it.  The demolition has now been completed and the Village will begin looking for a developer of single-family homes.  New development on vacant residential land will be a big boost to the economic health of the Village!

Our long-awaited restroom project went out to bid, started construction and was nearing completion by the end of 2017. A new path was added making our picnic shelter accessible.  No more walking down the slope through the grass with your picnic gear!

Dave’s Way, located in DeWitt Landing, was repaired and repaved in anticipation of the street eventually being turned over to the Village. The Village expects this to happen sometime in 2018.  Until it does, Dave’s Way is still a private drive.

Greenhills worked closely with the Winton Woods School District and the City of Forest Park to develop a “Safe Routes to Schools Travel Plan.”  This document is important because it will allow all 3 entities (Greenhills, Forest Park and WWSD) to seek grant funding from the State for a variety of sidewalk, crosswalk and traffic control projects.  The focus of the funding is to enhance the safety of children who walk or ride their bikes to school.

The Village is always looking for ways to share services with other communities when it makes sense to do so.  In 2017, we entered into a shared services agreement with Golf Manor for financial services provided to them by our Finance Director.  The agreement runs through 2018.

A unique and fun venture in 2017 was the golf cart delivery project with UPS.  Not much work was required on our part, but hopefully residents received their holiday packages a little bit earlier in the day!

The pavers around the Gazebo were lifted and reset on a concrete basis to improve the walking surface.  If you haven’t had a chance to check them out plan to do so at the Summer Concerts, starting in May!

We were pleased to establish yet another means of communicating with our residents by adding Village Headlines.   If you’re not yet signed up for these quick news items, you can do so through the Village’s website.

Most notably we celebrated and commemorated the designation of a portion of Greenhills as a National Historic Landmark!