Heritage Commission Approves All Requests, Following Debate

By mark Evans

Ste. Genevieve herald

After the first of six requests for certificates of appropriateness led to extended debate and a tight 3-2 vote in favor, the Ste. Genevieve Heritage Commission unanimously approved the next five items during its July 20 meeting.

HOOPER’S CARPORT

BARELY APPROVED

The only “old business” on the agenda was Tom and Pam Hooper’s request to put a steel carport behind their ASL Pewter building [located at 183 S. Third], alongside the historic circa. 1800 Thomure Ice House.

The commission had tabled the request in June, until Hooper could produce samples of the material.

Hooper did so. He had also argued that a vehicle is parked in the spot the carport would take anyway, and that the carport would not block the view of the historic ice house from South Gabouri Street any more than the vehicle does.

Commission member Martha Patterson expressed concerns about putting anything there that might detract from the ice house, which was praised by the Historic American Buildings Survey as a very rare and important surviving example of a very early 19th-century utility structure.

First, Patterson asked if Hooper would consider just a concrete pad for parking. He replied that he already had a pad.

“I think you’ve done a wonderful business,” Patterson said. “I think it’s contributed so much to Ste. Genevieve. But, I just cannot support a carport like that, against the old ice house.”

Commission member Donna Rausch then made a motion that the certificate be awarded. She pointed out that it will not be connected to the building and that the view is already blocked by the vehicle there.

Patterson expressed sympathy for Hooper for buying a commercial property on Third Street that just happened to have a landmark structure at the rear of the building. She said she wished the car port could be beside his main building, rather than the ice house.

“If it could be put next to his building on Third Street, that would be wonderful, but apparently it can’t be put there,” Patterson said.

The motion nearly died for the lack of a second. Hooper cut in and expressed his opinion on the objections, however.

“If you’re going to go by your feelings and the way it should and not by the ordinances, then that dilutes the quality and care that you are doing to the historic buildings in this community,” he said. “Feelings should have nothing to do with it. That’s rules and regulations. And, that is what this commission is here to enforce.”

Patterson worried about setting a precedent.

“What if the Green Tree Tavern wanted to put a shed by their property?” she asked. “Would we be setting a precedent here? How could you say no to someone else?”

“I don’t normally question well-designed carports,” commission member Frank Myers said. “But, in this case, we’re trying to build up the image of the community for tourism ad I don’t care what color you put up, a … metal shed is just not a great coaxer of tourism. It just wouldn’t work. And your shop of one of the ones that would benefit if we get more tourism. And it should, because it’s a great shop.”

Myers added that the appearance of the carport alongside the rock structure would be “busy,” also wishing it could be located elsewhere on Hooper’s property.

“I’m  just asking for an interpretation of rules, not opinions,” Hooper replied.

Brenner then seconded the motion, “based on that the guidelines do not satisfy a denial for the requested carport.”

After the voice vote, which seemed to be split, member Lee Ann Waldgovel asked whether a depiction of the carport Hopper had given the members was accurate. Hooper showed a more accurate rendering to the members.

Waldgovel said that while she had an opinion also, “but he is correct that our rules, as written here, do not prohibit it.”

A roll call vote was then held. Waldvogel, Rausch and Benner voted in favor of granting the certificate, while Myers and Patterson voted against it. It thus carried, 3-2.

Hooper had less trouble gaining approval of the replacement of a double door on the rear of the pewter shop building, itself.

Hooper said the glass and wood door will be replaced with a slightly smaller wood “which looks very similar” to the current one. It will be a single door with a panel on both sides, he said.

“It is the only door you can see from the alleyway or the street that will not be a steel constructed door. All the historic buildings that are seen from the alley have steel doors, rather than an appropriate door.”

He said the doorway will be reframed about four inches smaller and repainted with the same color.

Waldvogel and Patterson both remarked that they thought it would look good.

It was quickly put to a voice vote and passed unanimously.

ROBINSON TO PUT UP FENCE

Bob Robinson of 242 Merchant Street then brought a request to install a six-foot wooden privacy fence behind his property and that of his neighbors at 252 Merchant Street.

Robinson, who had similarly taken the problem to the Ste. Genevieve County Commission, explained that the demolition of the old County Services building and the addition of the new paved paring lot had necessitated a fence.

He said he and his neighbors shared a gravel driveway between the properties.