Minutes for Historic Board on October 09, 2007, 06:00 PM
LOWELL HISTORIC BOARD
October 9, 2007 at 6:00 p.m.
MEMBERS PRESENT OTHERS PRESENT
Reynold Ilg, Chairman Barry Ganek, Ganek Architects
Peter Aucella Mark E. Goldman, 58 Oakland Street
Taya Dixon Brian McGowan, TMI Properties
Rachel Edlund David Robinson, Lowell: The Flowering City
Jeffrey Harris Gunther Wellenstein, City of Lowell
Martha Mayo Stephen Stowell, Administrator
Kim Zunino, Assistant Administrator
1. PUBLIC HEARINGS
A. DLHD-08-13: 725-741 Merrimack Street
The Romanesque style St. Jean Baptiste/Nuestra Senora del Carmen church (1889-1896), Tremont Mills Agent’s House/St. Jean Baptiste & Nuestra Senora Rectory (ca. 1835; 1887), and two-story brick office building (ca. 1840-45). Application for an Historic Permit for exterior rehabilitation.
The Chairman read the published Public Hearing Notice and declared the Hearing open to those wishing to speak in favor of the application.
The Chairman recognized developer Brian McGowan and architect Barry Ganek of Ganek Architects. Mr. Ganek went over the main components of the project. He said that the project involves rehabilitating the three buildings into 50 residential units in two phases. Phase 1 will involve the conversion of the former rectory and office building into 17 and 2 units respectively. Phase 2 consists of converting the church into 31 residential units. Mr. Ganek said that parking would be provided on an existing surface lot at the corner of Merrimack and Aiken Streets.
Mr. Ganek stated that there are 17 units planned for the rectory and its original addition. There will not be a second exterior egress. They will also modify three dormers on the courtyard elevation not visible to the street. Mr. Ganek noted that they plan to lower the corner of the building near the dormers while leaving the street side elevation untouched. The 1/1 double hung replacement windows will be replaced with 2/2 aluminum windows. Mr. Ganek said that the siding on the dormers would be of a cementitious nature.
Mr. Ganek stated that the entrance would be replaced on the former office building with a single door with sidelights. Mr. Ganek said they would be rebuilding the rear exterior egress stairs to the second floor and that the roof would also be replaced.
Mr. Ganek stated that the interior design of the church is still evolving but there are no plans to split any windows and that no new interior walls or floors would bisect any windows. There will be no new penetrations to the church.
Having asked aloud 2 more times if anyone else wished to speak on behalf of the proponents and hearing no one, the Chairman declared the Hearing closed to proponents and opened the Hearing to those who wished to speak in opposition.
Having asked aloud 3 times and hearing no one, the Chairman declared the Hearing closed to opponents and opened the Hearing to comments or question from Board members and the staff.
Mr. Harris asked if there are any intact windows from the original office building. Mr. McGowan responded that there were. The Administrator stated that there were 6/6 aluminum windows with grids between the glass. The Administrator said that they were replaced at one point during later use.
Mr. Aucella asked if there were any original windows left in the rectory being used as models for this rehabilitation. The Administrator stated that the windows were all replaced with the aluminum ones except for a few broken 1/1 and 2/2 windows.
Mr. Aucella asked the applicants to talk about the placement of the HVAC maintenance systems. He notes there has been a problem in the past with placement of these systems in other project. Mr. McGowan said that the system would be ground mounted in a rear area adjacent to the rectory. The Administrator confirmed that there are areas where the condensers could be hidden.
Mr. Aucella stressed that defining the placement early in the permitting process is important.
Mr. Aucella asked about the rectory rear roof deck. Mr. Ganek explained that the deck was proposed to be on a later addition and it has a flat roof. The Administrator stated a balustrade would be along the deck.
Mr. Harris asked if there was a door opening to the deck. Mr. Ganek stated that there is now a window there that would be converted.
Mr. Ganek explained that the roof deck was way in the back of the building. The Administrator said the balustrade would be a black iron railing.
Mr. Harris asked if the solid fence will remain in the courtyard, or if the public would be able to see into the courtyard. Mr. McGowan replied that he wanted to keep the courtyard private and secure, so the solid fence would stay and be fixed. Mr. Ganek said that the plan was to have access to individual units in the rectory and church through the courtyard.
The Administrator stated that the applicants are waiting to get the title from the Archdiocese and part of the conditions of securing title was obtaining permitting.
Mr. Aucella asked about the units in the church and how the units are situated. Mr. Ganek said that another level will be put in the church units, and that floor design is under discussion. The units will be duplexes and the second level will be set back as not to disrupt the large windows.
The Administrator said that any vertical walls would intersect at the mullions.
Mr. Aucella asked if the project cost listed included the addition of the second floor. Mr. Ganek said it did.
Motion by Ms. Mayo, seconded by Mr. Aucella, to:
vote to issue the Historic Permit for the exterior rehabilitation of 725-741 Merrimack Street in the Downtown Lowell Historic District conditional upon the following:
· Submittal, review, and approval of final details related to all aspects of the replica window scope of work including, but not limited to, shop drawings, paint color, interior storm/screen system (dark frame), and blinds (dark color) prior to commencement of individual work items. Plans of existing window installations (sashes, frames, moldings, etc.) to be prepared for comparison with proposed aluminum replica shop drawings in order to ensure consistency in dimensions and sightlines. No build out of existing window frames is allowed, nor is wrapping of any elements (all existing window elements to be removed so that new units fit within dimensions of masonry openings);
· Submittal, review, and approval of material and color samples for masonry repair/reconstruction, repointing, metal work, and paint. On-site cleaning, mortar, masonry, metal, glass, and paint samples will be required for review and approval prior to commencement of individual work items;
· Submittal, review, and approval of proposed stained glass restoration work scope, any additional removal of existing stained glass, and any proposed adjustments to operation of windows required for residential conversion of the church (including any screens) prior to commencement of individual work items;
· Submittal, review, and approval of final details related to any proposed new ceilings, floors, walls and stairways relevant to visibility through windows prior to commencement of individual work items;
· Submittal, review, and approval of final details related to all aspects of any proposed site work including, but not limited to, iron fence restoration, landscaping, signage, lighting, and paving prior to commencement of individual work items. Maintenance of Father Garin statue to be properly undertaken and existing overgrown landscape to be evaluated and addressed;
· Submittal, review, and approval of final design and details including, but not limited to, mechanical equipment (roof and/or ground placed); new rectory dormers (including siding); gutters/downspouts; roofing/flashings; rectory rear roof deck; office building reconstructed stairway; light fixtures; and building signage prior to commencement of individual work items; and
· Submittal, review, and approval of any scope of work alterations and final details prior to commencement of individual work items.
Work is consistent with Sections 2.301, 2.304, 2.31, and 2.32 of the Downtown Lowell Historic District Design Review Standards.
Unanimously approved, 6-0.
The Public Hearings were closed at 6:20 p.m.
Kim M. Zunino, Assistant Administrator
Stephen R. Stowell, Administrator
LOWELL HISTORIC BOARD
October 9, 2007 at 6:00 p.m.
MEMBERS PRESENT OTHERS PRESENT
Reynold Ilg, Chairman Mark E. Goldman, 58 Oakland Street
Peter Aucella David Robinson, Lowell: The Flowering City
Taya Dixon Gunther Wellenstein, City of Lowell
Rachel Edlund Stephen Stowell, Administrator
Jeffrey Harris Kim Zunino, Assistant Administrator
Approval of the Minutes of August 13 and September 10, 2007
The Administrator requested that approval of the Minutes be postponed.
3. OTHER BUSINESS
A. Solar Trash Compactor/Receptacle Informational
The Chairman recognized Gunther Wellenstein, Solid Waste Manager for the City of Lowell. Mr. Wellenstein passed out informational literature about the Sea Horse Power Company who manufactures solar trash compactors/receptacles.
Mr. Wellenstein explained that there was a grassroots effort by many entities, including Lowell: The Flowering City, Keep Lowell Beautiful, and Enterprise Bank to get downtown trash problems resolved. Mr. Wellenstein stressed that this was just one option to help address the issue.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that as a newer product it does not have a long track record. However he wanted to introduce the product as a possible solution to the trash problem on an experimental basis.
Mr. Wellenstein explained the product was solar powered and totally self contained. There would be a week’s worth of power in the reserve in case of snow covering the solar panel. When the trash in the receptacle reaches a certain point the door locks and the trash is compacted. Mr. Wellenstein stressed that the receptacle is for pedestrian use, not commercial use. The timing mechanism would prohibit any attempt to dispose of commercial waste.
Mr. Wellenstein spoke of the benefits of the receptacle. It would need fewer visits for trash collection because it holds four times the trash of a regular receptacle due as it compacts the trash. The compaction would also keep animals and other pests away. The design keeps oxygen out and therefore fewer odors.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that because of the cost of each receptacle, there must be a serious commitment in place. He said the City has some funds available from the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative for solar items. Mr. Wellenstein stated that other entities would also bring in funds.
The Administrator said that Diane Tradd in DPD was hoping to have funds for a compactor for the new spray and play park at Shedd Park.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that there would be advertising mounts available for the sides of the units but they can be used for the City Seal or recycling education efforts.
Mr. Wellenstein pointed out that the second-generation compactor is smaller and is outfitted with a smart chip that locks the lid when full and alerts via text message that it needs to be serviced. He stated that it would be available in charcoal with black, which would match the black wrought-iron décor of downtown.
Mr. Wellenstein then discussed possible locations downtown for a receptacle. He mentioned the Keep Lowell Beautiful survey that was recently done asking where trash is a problem downtown. He said that Merrimack Street near Kearney Square and Dunkin Donuts would be a prime location, as well as up Merrimack near Enterprise Bank.
Mr. Wellenstein said LeLacheur Park and Tsongas Arena could also be potential locations.
Mr. Wellenstein finished up by saying that he believes that if decided upon, these receptacles could be integrated into downtown without compromising the streetscape.
The Chairman opened the floor to any questions or comments from the Board.
Ms. Mayo stated that a location on Paige St outside the Freshman Academy has had a litter problem for some time. Mr. Wellenstein responded by stating that he had met with the principal about involving the academy students in recycling and trash. He had asked about getting a recycling container across the street from the Academy.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that there are 320 trashcans on city sidewalks, not including DCR property and inside sport parks. He stated that the plan was to start small with a few compactors.
Mr. Aucella stated that as far as the unit color goes, black and gray sounds acceptable as well as the keeping logos in check. Mr. Wellenstein stated that there would be an agreement about the size of the logos.
Mr. Aucella asked about the size of the second-generation unit. Mr. Wellenstein said they are about 4ft tall, similar in size to mailboxes.
Ms. Edlund said that there is a location near her office with a compactor receptacle in Somerville. She has seen it being used and the trash has been controlled in an area where it had been a problem.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that Enterprise Bank came to him and said that they want one out front, so Enterprise would be a sponsor.
The Chairman asked about liquids and how they are contained. The Chairman was concerned about the bags breaking and causing a leak. Mr. Wellenstein stated that there are heavy-duty thick plastic liners and is self-contained. Mr. Wellenstein said that according to the vender, there is no such problem.
Mr. Aucella stated that it would only work if all trash receptacles were replaced with these citywide to make an economical difference. Mr. Wellenstein agreed as all other receptacles would still have to be picked up.
Mr. Aucella stated that areas, like the Riverwalk, which are not easily accessible and intermittently serviced, would be a good place for these instead of downtown streets. Mr. Wellenstein said that part of it is that smaller entities do not have the money ($4K) to get these. He stated that there had been some discussion to approach the two ice cream stores on opposite sides of river and have one at the Sampas Pavilion and also in the parking lot across from Hess station at Sheehy Park.
Mr. Harris talked about the units purchased by the state Department of Conservation & Recreation for Castle Island and Esplanade in Boston. T hey were the first generation units and they weren’t in a high visibility area, but the smaller second-generation compactors were put on Hanover Street in the North End and were much more appropriate in that location.
The Administrator asked if Enterprise wanted a unit downtown would they need to come in front of the Board or could it be handled at the staff level. The Administrator said that locations chosen were areas with problems, but the City shouldn’t jump in considering the cost and the short track record of the product. A comparison with other communities would be wise.
The Chairman expressed his concern about advertising and decoration on the compactor. Mr. Wellenstein stated that the only ornament might be metallic rectangular recycling containers attached to the units. The Administrator said that it had been made very clear that any units installed in areas the Board has jurisdiction in would be of a nonobtrusive black/charcoal color and logos would be restricted to the City Seal, a small discreet sponsor logo, and that would be it. They would not be turned into pseudo-works of art and not installed in areas that are critical from a historic landscape perspective such as Lucy Larcom Park.
Mr. Wellenstein stated that several entities are looking to enhance recycling at various special events throughout the year.
B. Enforcement/ Violations Update
The Administrator said that regular enforcement activity has gearing up again as photographs are in the process of being taken and notices begun to be prepared for a variety of “nuisance” violations such as neon “open” signs and an array of other temporary signage. Several calls have also been made to property owners requesting their assistance in addressing several tenant concerns.
It was noted that the Simpson Block in Kearney Square has been repainted which is a direct result of the Board’s minimum maintenance orders to the property owner.
C. Administrator’s Report
The Administrator said that FY08 review and permitting is holding constant with FY07. Work continues to be steady as many projects require post-permitting review and approval of design details, and materials while routine signage and maintenance applications continue to be submitted for review and approval. The Administrator noted that there are also several projects in the Design Review stage that will need future public hearings.
As requested at the last meeting, an inquiry was made to the City’s Asset Manager Larry Bevere regarding the status of the disposition of the property. The Administrator said that Mr. Bevere had been given clearance to begin the disposition process for the property.
A Phase III project meeting was held at MHC on September 11 for the Acre and Pawtucketville project. All work in Phase IV has also been completed and final documents including survey forms, narratives, photographs, and maps are being submitted to MHC for final review.
Peter Aucella and the Administrator will be attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual National Preservation Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2-6.
The Administrator said that he and Chuck Parrott recently took a tour of the Appleton Mill area with the developer selected to undertake the Hamilton Canal District project, Trinity Financial.
D. Board Member Items/Inquiries
Mr. Aucella asked about the status of 305 Dutton Street. The Administrator said that he understood that the mismatched and missing windows had been ordered and that a revised site plan needed work in terms of the proposed fencing and lack of site lighting.
Mr. Aucella said that Ed Barry’s project in the Boott Mills has a problematic HVAC issue. A very large unit was installed in a very visible location. There was a location indicated on the plans the Board approved for it but the final details of the unit were never submitted for approval. It was decided that pictures would be taken and distributed for review and discussion at the next Board meeting.
The Board discussed the options of dealing with this issue in the future. Ms. Edlund stressed that the Board needs to be asking the specific question of what type of HVAC system is to be installed when reviewing projects. Mr. Aucella questioned whether the Board could dictate what system should be used.
Mr. Aucella briefed the Board on a recent meeting regarding Mass Mills III and the expansion of the Riverwalk.
Motion by the Chairman, seconded by Ms. Mayo to:
adjourn the meeting at 7:15 p.m.
Unanimously approved, 6-0.
Kim M. Zunino, Assistant Administrator
Stephen R. Stowell, Administrator