Dotts, a professional preservationist, lives in Church Hill and must run any exterior change she wants to make to her house past the city’s architectural review board. She says the board’s over-zealous misinterpretation of its own guidelines leads to cases such as hers, where a drawn-out, bureaucratic obstacle course must precede adding something as simple as a gate from the same period as her home.
Not so fast, says David Johannas, chairman of the city’s Commission of Architectural Review, who says it ensures the authenticity of neighborhoods. Adding a gate that wasn’t physically at that address during the home’s period of historic significance, is the architectural equivalent of wearing drag. If there was a fence that went in, Johannas says, he would have preferred one that didn’t give a false impression of having been there all along.