how the HPC ruined my saturday

the back story:

A couple of months ago my wife was in the dining room and she noticed a wasp had gotten in somehow.  She then gets it in her head that it’s a good idea to use the business end of a broom to “snuff him out”, so to speak.

So we’ve got this wasp buzzing around near the windows in the dining room….you can all see where this is going, can’t you?  Yes, broom + window = sudden natural ventilation to the outside… :-\

In order to repair the damaged glass and in an attempt to rehang the old wood window, I completely disassemble the window sashes and take them out to be sanded and primed (we haven’t decided on the new colors for the house yet so primer is all we need at this point).  This is now done and the window is back in its hole.

fast forward to 11/27/10

I go out to get the mail, and notice an envelope from the Historic Preservation Commission which is tasked with maintaining our historic neighborhoods and enforcing the various zoning laws in effect.  The envelope contains a “notice of violation” informing me that I unlawfully replaced one window without obtaining a Certificate of Appropriateness for the new window……OBVIOUSLY I was more than miffed by this considering I haven’t replaced any windows, simply sanded and primed two sashes.

These “violations” that they mete out on a seemingly random basis can be subject to a fine of up to $300 per day commencing upon a written date and until the “violation” is brought up to snuff.  Can you see how this can go very badly for a homeowner in today’s economy who is just trying to make the best of his/her home?

I immediately called the number listed and left a very …. um… passionate voicemail describing the work that was done and the fact that, no, this is not a new window simply the old window in a mostly finished state of repair.  Leaving my name, number and “offending” address, I expected a phone call promptly this morning, which I got.

The resolution was simple enough, but the lesson that I offered to the gentlemen that I spoke with was that perhaps simply mailing out a “notice of violation” when no investigation was done may not be the best way to go about things in the future and that perhaps instead some other non-threatening notice could be given to homeowners who may or may not be in violation, but otherwise there is some question that needs addressing.

What say you?  Does anyone else out there have an interesting anecdote to tell with regards to a zoning board or other form of preservation commission getting in yo face?  I’d love to hear it.


About Jeremiah

Birth: April 6 - Upstate New York Education: Savannah College of Art and Design Bachelor of Fine Art - 2003 Masters of Architecture - 2003 Member AIA National since 2004 Member AIA Florida since 2004 Member AIA Jacksonville since 2004 Member Emerging Design Professionals Jacksonville since 2006 Emerging Design Professional President 2009-2010 View all posts by Jeremiah

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