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Citizens support, critique CAR at public meeting

October 1, 2009 8:23 pm by

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Approximately 25 people turned out for a public hearing tonight held by the Commission for Architectural Review Taskforce to receive public input concerning the process used by CAR. Eleven citizens spoke on various issues related to CAR; all were suppotive of the need for the commission, though some asked for changes in the guidelines and the appeals process.


Here are my sketchy notes on the speakers. I’m sure that I got names wrong, please post any corrections etc in the comments below.

Jim Daab – O&H formed by residents, CAR formed to serve the residents. CAR is too wrapped up about false historicism: modern and contemporary does not preserve the character of the neighborhood. Norfolk allows blending, RVA wants differentiation. Analogy of needing 2 front tooth, CAR wanting to put in gold teeth to differentiate.

Laura Daab – led effort to establish Church Hill North Old & Historic District. Lays out that Church Hill North has many vacant lots and reiterates the text of her recent petition.

Mary Jane Hogue – of the Historic Rchmond Foundation. Thanks for the opportunity to speak. Calls CAR a “a gift to the community every day” for their diligence in protecting the historic architecture. Says that HRF supports the CAR mission.

Waite Rawls – Directs museum of the Confederacy, CHA, – CAR is not aligned with the desires of the citzens. The rules do not seem consistent with neighborhood preservation. Oakwood Heights has undermined confidence in CAR and Oakwood Heights.

Chris Gunn – St.John’s resident, Fulton Hill Properties employee, – Oakwood Heights – neighborhoods should be allowed to thrive economically. Prooposes that there be a recusal when there is a financuial conflict of interest or if a CAR member lives in the district in question. Says that the process needs to be more efficient, less arbitrary.

William Kinnsly – 32nd Street resident, has renovated and describes the process of working with CAR as amiable. Has issues with the fact that it is too easy to get around CAR, complains about lax enforcement. Speaking of CAR, says that “they are doign a good job”.

Walter Dotts – guidelines no longer serve the purposes for which they were established. The guidelines are now the most pervasive threat, with the requirement for differentiation of new from old. Differentiaion has a place, but this is not why CAR was established. Shares personal experience with going befor CAR for a doorway and fence, having to put in a contemporary door & fence. “We did not buy an old house because we are fans of modern architecture.” – has suggestions that include: decouple from Federal guidelines, remove biases against traditional architecture, remove ban on salvaged materials.

Joseph Yates – architect & resident of an O&H – main issue is infill in O&H – standards are only guidelines… the change over time is part of what makes urban environments so interesting. drawing a line in time and not allowing new architecture leads to fake architecture and demishes the originals.

Burt (illegible) – architect – pattern books would lead to Disney World, CAR has a pretty good success rate over 50 years if you look at the small number of appeals, says that “on the whole we have a pretty good living document”

Colita Dobb – appreciates the benefit for having modern architecture juxtoposed with historic architecture, refers to “living among the variance”. (At this point I got distrated thinking about the new 6 packs of Legend and lost some of what was said. Sorry. – JCM). CAR should not be able to supercede zoning, this would lead to more high density and sustainable development.

Mark Franco – of Franco LaFratta – has been before CAR many times, has not had to go through the appeals process. Suprised that the legislative body is involved in the appeal process: any appeal can then be frought with political overtones.

The next meeting of the CAR Review Taskforce will be at 4PM on the 1st Thursday of November at Firestation Headquarters building (201 East Franklin Street).


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