A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Council denies appeal on window replacement

Written October 13th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The top row of windows to the right and left of center are new. The council denied permission to replace the row below them.

Over the last 20 years or so, Willamette Community Church has replaced 122 balky old windows in its historic building, the former Albany High School. On Wednesday the city council denied the church’s request to finish the job by replacing the last 11 windows on the list.

The council voted unanimously to reject an appeal from a decision by the Albany Landmarks Commission, which on Sept. 1 had denied a request by the church to use vinyl sashes in the replacement of 34 windows that had — or still have — wooden sashes. Twenty-three of the wood windows had already been replaced with vinyl sashes when the city building official issued a stop-work order in July. Eleven remain to be done.

During a public hearing on the window issue, the council heard from church leaders and members. The gist was that the windows had warped, were leaking or were hard to open, had severely cut a staff member’s right arm when it broke as she tied to open it, and the new windows were about half as expensive as replacing them with wooden sashes. Over the 20 years they had been working on this, no one complained that the replacements didn’t look right.

The council also heard from four defenders of original materials and designs in the architecture of the Hackleman and Albany’s other historic districts. One of them was Kerry McQuillin, chair of the Landmarks board that rejected the church’s application before.

If you want all the details of what everybody said, watch the video recording on YouTube or the city’s Facebook page. But the upshot is that the church, which operates the Albany Christian School in the classrooms behind those windows, is stymied from finishing the window replacement as winter gets close.

The 34 windows in the front of the building being replaced in this final phase of the project were installed without a city permit, which the church didn’t realize it supposedly needs because it’s classified as a commercial building. So now, one question is: Will the city make them tear out the 23 windows already done, besides not allowing them to finish the remaining 11? The council didn’t ask about that.

The council’s denial included an instruction to the Landmarks board to “work with” the church to find a way forward. But nobody said what exactly that meant. (hh)

26 responses to “Council denies appeal on window replacement”

  1. CHEZZ says:

    Nonsensical Nuisance

  2. Craig says:

    Let Ms. McQuillin pay for it out of her own pocket, or provide a government grant. But unless she wants to take ownership and provide for the current occupants, I suggest she step aside. The church is maintaining the building to provide a safe environment. Bureaucrats like Ms. McQuillin need to be replaced.

    It seems to me the church is stuck with a building in a dilapidated condition, leaving an unsafe environment for the occupants. I suggest the Church seek legal counsel against the City. Seeking damages to get the windows restored to Ms. McQuillin’s liking.

  3. Jake (JJ) Johnny Johan Hartman says:

    Once again, Albany’s Revanchist Government demonstrates that the Council is working tirelessly to benefit the citizenry, protecting us against the imprudence of plastic windows. One day, the hoi polloi of our fair community will discern the craving for architectural integrity. Until then, only the Council and the Landmarks Commission stand between the proletariat and chaos.

  4. Dan Steele says:

    For sale, 34 special ordered vinyl windows. Approximatly size 8′ by 4′, three pane, original cost $55000. All offers will be considered.

  5. Dan Steele says:

    In 2003 The Willamette Community Church started a project to replace worn out wood windows on the West and South side of their building. On May 15th 2003, the church received a letter from the city of Albany to stop work. With the letter were 4 pages of landmark code. At that time the city replaced their permitting software so no records can be found of the outcome of that letter. It would be apparent because the work continue, approval was given by is given by the landmarks commission or permission was given by city council or permission was granted by city staff by what was called a counter review of the project.

  6. Jim Engel says:

    Say what!!?? In this nation are not Church & State to remain apart!! So why are those buffoons on the Landmark Council saying anything about what the church does? As long as the vinyl windows used meet industry standards what’s the problem! That McQuillin needs to be given a bus ticket to the Liberal Peoples Sanctuary of Portland! “Exactly what that meant” means our lame City Council didn’t have the hid legs to stand up & tell the Landmark council to take a hike. Absolutely way overreach by an arm of the City.

    • Francois DeLacroix says:

      The Landmarks commissioners are simple Wannabes, frustrated at their lot in life, taking out deep-seated anger on working class stiffs. But it is not these lilly-livered lumps you ought be concerned with. No! Tis the Council itself, a collection of spineless, incoherent schlubs.

      That the elected leadership of Our Fair City couldn’t find the courage on something so simple as this…well Lord have mercy if ever a serious issue were to come before the dear Councilors. Pray to whatever gods you believe in that this never happens.

    • centrist says:

      Your comments are both pointed and make a point.
      The separation of church and state doesn’t mean that the gummint can’t do what’s going on here. The concept came about to prevent the gummint from establishing a church and enforcing membership.

  7. thomas earl cordier says:

    It is time for the school admin to tell the City –up yours and do what they want So what’s the downside when property owner does that. End up in court??
    Perhaps an initiative petition could be filed to allow voters to have a say. I’d work on that if there is interest. We know the Feds over reach and the same thing is here.
    The purists must be stopped.

    • Gordon L. Shadle says:

      My hope is there is enough interest to launch a petition and have an initiative make the ballot.

      Recent history shows that when foolishness like this happens, it’s time for the residents to rise up and remind City Hall that voters are the ultimate governing body.

      Direct democracy can be a very effective scalpel, even when a small number of motivated people mobilize to make it happen. Good luck, Tom.

      • Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

        I nominate Thomas Earl Cordier and Gordon L. Shadle as Co-Chairs of the new petition drive wherein, with the strokes of our pens, we, the mundane Albany citizenry, challenge the brutish actions taken most recently under the guise of Architectural Integrity

  8. Ted says:

    Gotta love it when these power hungry agencies make rulings like this concerning property they don’t own. Costs they don’t have to pay and rulings they don’t have to hire lawyers on their dime to fight. If they’re so worried about “historic integrity” then it seems to me that there is a church that’s been in the news for at least a year and now is waiting to be moved that needs a stop work order to put it back in it’s original position and have all the materials removed for the move to be replaced with the original materials. Sounds legit to me.

  9. Farmer says:

    That decision is as stupid as vaccine mandates. Government overreach.

  10. Thomas Aaron says:

    What a horrible waste of time and resources for grown adults to argue over windows on property that does not belong to them. Shame on the Albany City Council, the Albany Landmarks Commission, and espcially Kerry McQuillin.

    Do not leverage policy over anyone and try to sound sympathetic to their cause while openly opossing it in a professional and personal capacity. That is just some seriously sick NIMBY power trip.

    The only people in town who had a problem with those windows were in that meeting. I don’t think the majority of the citizens of Albany give a damn. Please stop trying to enforce the nostalgia of your youth and how you remember the way things used to be on the rest of us. We’re trying to move forward in our busy lives and not get stuck in your romantic visions of the past.

    TLDR: Ain’t nobody got time for this Sh*t!

  11. Richard Vannice says:

    Re Mr. Steele comment – There is a set of rules (Oregon Administrative Rules. that govern how long written documents MUST BE KEPT by government agencies.
    I am not familiar enough with OAR’s to know how long the City would have been required to keep the correspondence referred to .
    Some documents have a very limited retention time while a very few require “FOREVER”

  12. Dan Steele says:

    The WILLAMETTE Community Church eagerly awaits the Landmark Commission’s help.
    The city of Albany does have $2500 grant money to help with church’s window replacement project. I have researched federal grant funding available through the Secretary Of Interior’s office who overseas the national historic registry and sets the standard and guidelines for maintaining and/or restoring historical structures.
    Their current list of recent fundings, as much as half a million dollars, has gone to federal buildings or large museums. The current number of applications for future funding will stretch a paper trail from here to Lebanon.
    I challenge counseling Dick Olson to come to the church and try an open our best easiest opening 8 by 4 wood windows with a single finger. what a joke!!!
    The chairperson of the landmarks committee never should been allowed to speak. All her comments and so forth were done at their meeting and should have stayed at their meeting. Council members were all given minutes of the landmarks commission meeting that denied the replacement of the windows. It was so unfair and so unprofessional for her to even try doing such a thing, but I really do applaud the mayor for shutting her down.

  13. thomas earl cordier says:

    From the 10 responses so far ; looks like Matida needs to make a motion to revisit this rejected Council decision.

  14. CHEZZ says:

    Picket and speak.

  15. Sharon Konopa says:

    I find it ironic that all of you who oppose regulations for preserving our historic stock have been able to enjoy the historic preservation in Albany for decades and it’s architectural character. But oh, since a window is a government regulation, then just throw the baby out with the bath water, huh! Come on folks you are all in your golden years here and won’t be around to see the continuance of our history on earth and to make sure our historic buildings are still preserved.
    But Kerry is a very smart, young and passionate citizen who wants our history preserved for her children to enjoy, as I do for my grandsons. She does not deserve to be criticized here and let alone the way she was treated during the council meeting was very disheartening to watch and she deserves an apology. Kerry has a right to state her opinion in a public hearing. I have seen many city board and commissioner members state their personal opinion to the council on many land use issues and she was not speaking on behalf of Landmarks Commission, who by the way were just following the codes!

    • Bill Kapaun says:

      You and your minions have destroyed any hope of a comfortable, retired life in Albany. My income has slid an ADDITIONAL %/year FURTHER below the poverty level for the last 4 years because of add Albany FEES (aka taxes) you pompous asses have imposed.

      • Sharon Konopa says:

        Wrong dude you are accusing, Bill!

      • Sharon Konopa says:

        Also Bill, until growth pays the full cost associated with expanding infrastructure and services, you’re retirement fund will keep shrinking. The decision makers need to have the guts to stand up to the development interest groups. More housing growth just moves in more people to Albany and as that continues, your utility fee will most likely increase over time!

        • Johnny Scot Van Ras says:

          Sorry Sharon, but YOU, as a former mayor and city councilor of Albany for way too many years, are the primary “dude” responsible for the financial burdens imposed on the citizens of Albany over the past 30 years. Wow, your comment “the decision makers need to have the guts to stand up to the development interest groups”, when did you ever stand up against any proposed spending? Albany’s population increased about 20,000 during your time in city government. And, i am not aware of any spending project that you did NOT champion – the cost to the taxpayer be damned. And, this latest “utility fee” is exactly what YOU said Albany needed while refusing to put it to a vote of the people. Oh, don’t forget CARA, the greatest “pork barrel” project in Albany’s history. Your legacy to Albany is covered in red ink and a lack of guts.
          As for the current city governing body, only Councilor Matilda Novak has shown the GUTS to stand up against the mayor and the rest of the city council. That must be a very lonely position. I applaud her!

          • Sharon Konopa says:

            Scott, re read my comment. Housing growth and taxes/fees are two different issues. You wouldn’t need an increase of revenues if it wasn’t for the demand for an increase in services. I do remember you were formerly on the planning commission and did you have the guts to say no? So were you apart of some of that 20k population increase? Thank you Scott for your kind words today!

        • Johnny Scot Van Ras says:

          Sharon, in response to your 10/18 reply, i had the guts to say Albany didn’t need the budget increase you were supporting and referenced an article from the Albany D-H which stated Albany Dept. heads could operate within the budget reductions. As i remember, your response to me was I shouldn’t believe everything I read in the Albany D-H. Well, a dept. head was at the meeting and she confirmed the Albany D-H story. You recruited / appointed me to the Planning Commission. You never once questioned my performance.
          As to your question “was I a part of that 20k population increase?” The answer is NO. I bought an existing 1956 home. And, in the past 30 years I have always purchased existing homes.
          As for kind words, i did support you on your stance against ADU’s and the elimination of the Single Family zoning designation but the city council did not.


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