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Bardstown City Council works to find middle ground in appeal of HRB decision

The Bardstown City Council met Thursday to hear an appeal by Bill Conway, owner of this historic home at 215 West Stephen Foster Ave., regarding a Historic Review Board decision that denied his application to keep the replacement windows that replaced the home’s original, historic windows.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Thursday, April 1, 2021 — The Bardstown City Council voted Thursday evening to require Bardstown businessman Bill Conway to work with the city’s Historic Review Board and replace parts of the original historic windows that were removed from the home at 215 West Stephen Foster Ave.

The HRB had denied Conway’s application to keep the modern windows that had replaced the home’s original windows. Conway appealed that decision in a special hearing before the Bardstown City Council Thursday.

The original historic windows were replaced with modern windows after the project to add a large addition at the home’s rear received its initial approval by the HRB in January 2020.

As part of that approval, Conway said he submitted large architectural paper drawings of the home and the planned addition. Those plans included a notation that the project would also include replacing the original windows in the historic part of the home.

The notation about replacing those windows was apparently missed by the Historic Review Board. Rashae Jennings, the city’s historic coordinator, told the council that the HRB would not have knowingly approved a plan that included replacing the home’s original, historic windows with modern units.

The notation about replacing the historic windows appears as text on the drawing of the front of the home with an arrow pointing to the home’s front view.

Apparently, the project plans — as PDF files — reduced their quality, and the notes about the window replacement plans were not legible.

Conway’s attorney, Thomas Hamilton, told the council that regardless of the legibility of the PDF documents, Conway had the full-size plans at the January 2020 hearing. He said he believed those PDFs were still legible if blown up sufficiently. It was the HRB that missed the details on the plans for the window replacement.

“Either way, Bill shouldn’t be negatively impacted by the HRB not being able to read the plans,” he told the council.

The council had the choice to either confirm the HRB denial of the modern windows, overrule the HRB’s denial, or create a motion forging some kind of compromise or middle ground.

At this point, Jennings said her office was seeking to have the original window sashes installed, replacing the modern sashes but not the window sills and frame. She provided documentation from a historic window expert who evaluated the original sashes and said they were in good condition and could be re-used.

Conway’s contractor, Dave Cook, disagreed with the expert’s view of the original window sashes. He the sashes were in poor condition and the glass in some panes was about to fall out. “Paint and putty will only get you so far,” he told the council.

The council members praised Conway for taking on the restoration of the historic frame home, which had fallen into disrepair.

Councilwoman Betty Kelly noted that the project’s original plans noted the historic window replacement, and in light of that fact, made a motion to overrule the HRB’s denial. Her motion was voted down, 4 votes to 2.

Seeking a compromise, Councilman Joe Buckman offered a motion to require Conway work with the HRB to use the existing window sashes by repairing those that can be repaired. Sashes beyond repair could be replicated with materials similar to the originals.

The council voted unanimously in favor of Buckman’s motion.

Conway made no comment after the vote. He has the option of appealing the council’s decision in Nelson Circuit Court.

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