Monday, August 16, 2010

A Missing Discussion........or Two

There is a discussion – or there are discussions - that do not occur, and need to, before most structures should be permitted to be demolished. You think I’m about to talk about protecting potentially historic structures, don’t you? Nope, this is about sustainability, practicality, saving money, and being green.

It's wrong that the Village ZBA granted setback & pyramid law reliefs to enable a new two-story house on the southeast corner of Henry & Howell Streets. Henry Street is currently one of the most charming streets in the village and this new house will impact its character and the direction of renovations/new construction forevermore. The point of this post is not necessarily to state that the existing [totally adorable] little yellow house should be saved, but it would seem significantly more appropriate to grant relief of various zoning regulations toward renovating and adding onto it rather than to grant relief(s) for new construction. Isn’t this village supposedly becoming more aware of sustainability and green endeavors? Wouldn’t they encourage/applaud one’s efforts to save and update an existing structure to meet current living trends rather than reward someone that knowingly buys something with a ridiculous building envelope by allowing them to build something completely out of character with the rest of the street? The new house is proposed to have the nicest of exterior finishes, but it won’t have half the character of the existing cottage.

I walked through this house when it was for sale and visualized its immense potential. I would happily provide those designs for free if the owner(s) were receptive to working with what’s there rather than building something new. As for the ARB/ZBA, this is not the first time they have been so receptive to new construction replacing an original (technically not historic and completely viable) structure. 32 Henry Street’s “cottage quaintness” contributes significantly to the overall likeability of its neighborhood and the village on the whole. The ARB/ZBA should require applicants to exhaust all renovation possibilities – as well as posting the house’s availability for relocation – before entertaining demolition/new construction plans with open arms.

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