Contentious gate, fence proposal passes
After much discussion, the Historical and Architectural Review Board awarded a certificate of appropriateness for a new gate and fence at the side rear of the house owned by Madeline Peters at 251 E. Church St. The gate proposal had been tabled at the previous meeting for want of more detailed plans. Representing the property was Dan Ault, who returned with a revised proposal that included the fence and gate with more accurate measurements. The vote was six “ayes” and two “nays.”
Peters’ next-door neighbor, Cheryl Dougan, owner of 253 E. Church St., returned as well, to request another delay in voting for approval for the project, citing unresolved issues between her and the other property owner. She also argued the angle of the new gate would be “inappropriate,” as it wouldn’t be perpendicular to the houses.
Vice Chairman Philip Roeder reminded her it would violate city zoning laws for the gate to straddle the property line. This would make it impossible for the gate to be installed perpendicular to the houses, as the space between them is only 41 inches, with the property line 31 inches away from 253 E. Church and 10 inches to it from Dougan’s rear addition.
During the public comment forum prior to the vote, Dougan’s husband, Anthony Viscardi ,said, “We would be open to design alternatives for a fence that could be easily mounted so I can have access to the wall.”
Approved was a three-foot wide by six-foot high solid wood cedar gate with black wrought-iron hardware, hung between two four-by-four premium kiln-dried posts with wooden caps. It is to be connected to a 15-foot wide by 6-foot high solid wood cedar fence six inches inside the property line. Within a year, the wood could be sealed with a clear finish.
Marsha Fritz told Ault the posts and crossbars should face his patio, and not Dougan’s property. Chairman Fred Bonsall supported this by citing the city’s traditional “Good Neighbor policy.”
Dougan, joined by Viscardi, complained that the proposed fence would make access to maintaining the siding on the rear addition of their home difficult, as the space between their building and the fence would be tight.
Bonsall and Fritz told them that this is something they should take up with the zoning office. It doesn’t fall under the purview of HARB. The COA is only a recommendation. They could also attend the city council meeting to provide input before a final vote is cast.
In other action, the commissioners approved Charles Lieb’s proposal to replace deteriorated slate with GAF slateline shingles on a shed’s roof behind his house at 46 E. Church St. Vice Chairman Philip Roeder mentioned he had visited the property and found the shingles on the roof were “flaking away” due to the low slope of the hip roof. The new shingles will be slate gray with hip ridge shingles for the top of the former carriage house.
A well-prepared Louis Cinquino scored a COA for window replacement for his row house at 56 E. Wall St. He informed the board that he was employing the same contractor to install the same style Andersen Woodwright double-hung units his neighbor in the same row had been previously approved for in June. Historic officer Joseph Phillips quipped, “You’re a quick learner,” as he mentioned the proposal was similar to the neighbor’s. Cinquino was allowed to replace two double-hung windows with a grouping of three for the back of his house.
Cinquino lives in one of four stone and brick faced townhouses built in 1978 on the site of the old Neisser school. His home has a “Germanic Stone” façade.
The voting for the last two successful proposals was unanimous.
The Historical and Architectural Review Board regularly meets the first Wednesday of every month to review all exterior changes proposed to buildings in the Bethlehem Historic District north of the Lehigh River. When a proposed project receives a certificate of appropriateness from the board, applicants must wait for City Council to vote on it before proceeding.
The city plans to eventually digitally record these hearings and post them on YouTube. A new start time of 5 p.m. is to begin with the January 2020 meeting.