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HRB: Council votes to allow roof 1 year to ‘age’ to an ‘appropriate color’

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

July 11, 2017, 11 p.m. — The owner of a historic home on West Broadway won’t have to replace or repaint the roof of her two-story brick home — at least not for one year.

RaShae Jennings, the city’s historic preservation director, shows the council an exhibit during the council’s hearing of a recommendation by the Historic Review Board.

The Bardstown City Council voted 4-1 to allow the roof to remain on Lucy Gorman’s home for a year to allow the roof’s color to “age,” and in the process, morph into a shade of green that is acceptable according to the city’s historic district guidelines.

A Louisville roofing contractor replaced the shingle roof of Gorman’s 1790 home with a metal roof painted a green color that simulated the color of aged copper. But Gorman had the work done without first applying to the Historic Review Board and getting a needed certificate of appropriateness.

The Historic Review Board works with owners of homes in the city’s historic district to help them maintain their home’s period correction exterior appearance and historical integrity. The process requires homeowners in the district to bring exterior changes and updates to the board prior to the start of the work.

In Gorman’s case, this did not happen. Gorman believed the roofing company would take care of needed approvals.

It did not.

After the omission was discovered, Gorman filed an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HRB for the new roof; the HRB recommended denial of the request based on the fact the color is inappropriate for homes of the period when her home was built.

Gorman’s choices came down to replacing the roof or painting the new roof a color approved by the HRB.

Replacing the roof would be cost prohibitive, and painting the roof would void the warranties on both the materials and the installation of the roof. Gorman decided to appeal the HRB’s denial.

Representing Gorman at the hearing Tuesday evening, attorney Jim Willett pointed out that the aged copper color of the new roof material looks like the same as the color of authentic aged copper found on the Statue of Liberty and many other historic buildings. And there are homes in the Historic District with copper roofs, he said, so the look of aged copper is an appropriate look in the downtown area.

Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton reviews evidence during Tuesday’s appeal of a recommendation by the Historic Review Board.

The Historic District follows the preservation guidelines established by the National Park Service, and RaShae Jennings, the historic preservation director, told the council those guidelines do not allow the use of “false historic” materials like the faux copper roofing metal.

“We would not approve this color for use anywhere in the district,” she said.

Jennings explained that the HRB follows the National Park Service guidelines and has always worked hard to treat the district’s property owners with fairness and applying the same rules to everyone. Allowing the roof to stay could create an unwelcome precedent which would be unfair to homeowners in the district who follow the rules.

City attorney Tim Butler said the council members had three choices when considering Gorman’s appeal — uphold the HRB denial; overturn the HRB denial; or send the matter back to the HRB.

During deliberations, Councilman David Dones said he agreed with the importance of supporting the HRB’s decisions, and that he would vote to uphold the denial.

After some discussion about how the appearance of the roof may change with weathering, Councilman Joe Buckman said he supported giving the roof time to see how its appearance will change with time and exposure to the elements.

The council voted to give the roof temporary approval for one year in order to see the effects of weathering and the environment and if it weathers into a more appropriate color. Dones voted against the measure; Councilwoman Kecia Copeland and Councilmen Bill Sheckles, Roland Williams and Buckman voted in favor of the temporary approval.

Gorman will be required to re-apply to the HRB for a Certificate of Appropriateness in one year.

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