German Village Society meeting
Group expresses concerns about addition to house
They came. They complained. They left.
A group of about 25 concerned residents approached the German Village Society Board of Trustees June 10 protesting a recent decision by the architectural review board.
Dave Ross, reading from a letter, told the board the action by the German Village Commission "has not been complementary to the historic integrity of the architecture of the original houses in German Village."
Ross, who said 70 people signed the letter, asked the board to meet with the city and commission "to consider the historic impact their decisions have on village properties so that our house additions do not show today's more contemporary architecture, but reflect the historic character and legacy left to us by our ancestors."
Then, within minutes, most of the group left the meeting.
For the few who remained, the board members told the audience that because the Society acted in an advisory capacity, it had little influence over the process. Furthermore, the commission acted on guidelines codified in city code.
At issue was the commission's approval of a house at 797 S. Sixth St. Some felt the design elements -- block, synthetic slate, glass and steel -- were too contemporary for the village.
Trustee Bill Curlis said the commission had to apply the law, not gut instincts.
"You don't have the power to say you don't like something," he said. "You don't have the power to say something doesn't fit."
The Society turned to its historic preservation consultant, Jody Graichen, for perspective on the matter.
Graichen, who was not at the meeting, wrote that she believed the project met the local design guidelines.
She said she didn't believe "modern" additions to be inappropriate and that each property in the village is different "and what works at one address will not work at all."
"People don't come to German Village seeking a living history museum or reconstructed site -- they come here to see how this neighborhood has evolved over time and adapted to everyday life in historic homes and businesses," Graichen wrote.
"Today's additions and new construction should be representative of the 21st century."
She said whereas the Society has held public forums about large commercial projects planned for the neighborhood, she cautioned the society from getting directly involved in a discussion with the city and commission "in a manner that will surely pit neighbor against neighbor, member against member."
Trustee Chris Hune said the Historic Preservation Committee, of which she is chairwoman, will take up the matter at its July 18 meeting.