The owners of an old house at 136 Main St. N.E. will be allowed to use composite siding on one side of the place, but they’ll be required to replace three of the 10 vinyl windows they installed more than 20 years ago.
That was the verdict of the Albany Landmarks Advisory Commission following a public hearing Wednesday night. (That’s the former name of the group. Now it’s called the Landmarks Commission. See the comments below.)
Part of the “Baltimore House” house dates from 1875, the rest from the 1920s. After Stephen and Mary Alley bought it in the 1980s, they made repairs as necessary. Last fall the rotten wood siding on the south exterior started to be replaced, and the city noticed this. It also noticed that years before, some wood-framed windows had been replaced with vinyl, which was not allowed without the city’s OK because the house is considered historic.
For a long time the house was a rental. Now it has been spruced up inside and out, and the owners’ son Jeff lives there. He was the applicant in the Landmarks case.
This was not a controversial case, and the tone at Wednesday’s hearing was cordial. There was no opposition, and no one other than the Alleys, father and son, testified.
But the commission members discussed at some length the details of the siding the owners want to use, as well as the trim around the windows. They also suggested that above one of the front windows, the owners install a kind of horizontal eyebrow that is no longer there but appears in a photo with the city’s historic inventory compiled in 1990.
The city planning department prepared a nine-page staff report on the application. With attachments the page count rose to 31.
As an editorial writer sitting in the audience, this thought occurred to me: In a city whose rising personnel costs are prompting threats of closing a pool and a historic library, maybe the code could be amended to eliminate the need for staff reports and quasi-judicial hearings on the details of window trims and how to side a wall. (hh)