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Q & A with Holly Hornbeak about Landmark rules

No surprise that the conversation at our April meeting was mostly about exterior house paint colors and fencing. As a City of Dayton Historic Preservation Planner, Holly is the neighbors’ first point of contact for Zoning approval of their property changes. Phone 937-333-4271. Fax 937-333-4281. [email protected]
April 29, 2021
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South Park News

Holly Hornbeak, Historic Preservation Planner, City of Dayton

While we all know that buildings within the historic overlay are governed by special rules when it comes to exterior changes, we are sometimes confused about it. Holly answered our questions at the April 27, 2021 HSPI Member meeting.

Paint Color Choices. Many of us are confused about what constitutes a “historic color” and a few recently-approved paint jobs look inappropriate compared to South Park houses on the whole. Can you please offer neighbors a starting point for “safe” colors?

Holly agreed to pursue neighbors’ suggestion to prepare a document for neighbors that will direct them to “safe colors” as a jumping off point for their exterior house painting plans. Suggestions include directing neighbors to the Historic Home Color Collections of major paint brands, such as Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore.

Fence Approval. A hot topic for neighbors, since fences done right can enhance the whole block, and if done wrong can diminish the historic character that adds value to South Park.

Per Holly, removing, replacing and building new fences requires two sets of approvals. First, owners need permission/approval from Holly, who checks the design aesthetic for appropriateness.  Next, Zoning checks the plan for appropriate height, location and set back (the distance any structure must be set back from the street).

Are horizontal fences allowed? They are not prohibited, but in every case, they must pass through the approval process, since they may be disallowed based on their location and dimensions. Basketweave fences are not allowed. Landmarks prefers vertical fencing in all cases.

Certificates of Appropriateness (COA). For specific information about Major and Minor Certificates of Appropriateness, visit the City of Dayton website Living with Historic Zoning.

For minor repairs, neighbors can receive a Certificate of Appropriateness on the same day they ask for it. Neighbors can pick it up at Holly’s office, or have it mailed to arrive within a few days. COA’s are printed on heavy neon green paper stock and must be posted prominently on the building for all to see while the work is being done.

Major COAs take longer, as they require an in-person review with the Landmarks Commission. For example, if an owner wants to remove/replace doors and/or windows to return a converted duplex back to its original plan as a single-family home, the owner needs to appear before the Commission.

COA’s are valid for one year. If the year expires before the work has been done, often just a call to Holly will be enough to renew it for another year.

HD2 vs HD1. Why are historic zoning rules different for buildings along the business corridor on the east and west sides of Wayne Avenue? The majority of properties within South Park at governed by HD2 Zoning (Historic District 2) which is the strictest zoning code governing the exterior of historic buildings. Businesses on the east/west sides of the Wayne Avenue business corridor are zoned as HD1, which means only major physical changes need approval, such as adding a patio or additional major structural changes. They do not need approval for paint colors.

When building owners fail to follow zoning rules, how do you stop the improper work that’s underway? And how do you correct/reverse improper work that’s already been done? If a neighbor calls me to inquire about a possible violation on their block, or if our Housing Inspector sees a violation underway, or if either see work being done without the bright green COA posted on the building, the first thing to do is call me to see if any plans are on file. I will call the property owner and take it from there. Our Housing Inspector may put a Stop Work order on the building until the owner resolves the issues with the Landmarks Commission and the City.

Are free design services still available? No. Before the recent City budget cuts, neighbors could use one of two contracted architectural firms to create drawings (elevations) to take before the Commission (for example, plans for a new porch). Each project was eligible for up to $900 in time and design services. The service may return when/if the City recovers from recent financial losses.

Does the City keep a file on the building and repair history of every historic home so that neighbors can see what their home originally looked like and what’s been changed over time? We do maintain such files, but unfortunately, they are “hit or miss.” They may contain basic information from the Sanborn Fire Insurance Records (1918-1950), and the modern changes that have happened since South Park became a historic district. But if you want to return your property to something close to the original, you may not find what you want in our files.

What’s it like going before the Landmarks Commission to request approval?  The Landmark Commission meets twice a month and consists of at least two registered architects, three historic district residents, and one representative from Dayton History. At the meeting, Holly introduces you and explains your request, complete with your drawings and information from your application. You need to be there as well to answer questions posed by the Commissioners. They will vote to approve or disapprove the proposed changes during the meeting. If the Commission disapproves, they will offer suggestions on how to make it work, and invite you back again to review new plans.

Thank you, Holly Hornbeak! Contact Holly at: Phone 937-333-4271. Fax 937-333-4281. [email protected]

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