A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Vinyl windows? Landmarks panel says no

Written September 3rd, 2021 by Hasso Hering

The front of the old Albany High School: The three-pane windows are new; old ones have two panes.

The church that owns the old Albany High School has run into a roadblock in its project to replace 34 windows in the historic building’s façade.

On Wednesday night, the Albany Landmarks Commission unanimously denied a request by Willamette Community Church to use a substitute material — vinyl instead of the original wood — in the sashes of the new windows.

Starting about 20 years ago, the church began replacing 156 of the 242 windows in the building, built in 1909 and expanded with two wings in 1930. Now they’re in the last phase of this work, with 11 of the last 34 still to be done. The others are finished, all with vinyl sashes.

The city building division stopped the work on July 16 because no building permit had been issued for any of it. To get a permit after the fact, the church needs Landmarks’ OK for the 34 windows.

The lack of a building permit dominated much of the remarks by commission members during the virtual meeting, even though it was only the matter of substitute materials that was at issue in the quasi-judicial proceeding. (You can listen to an audi0 version of the meeting here. The vinyl-window hearing starts about one-third of the way in.)

The Landmarks denial can be appealed to the city council.

Camron Settlemier, an Albany resident and advocate for historic buildings, was the only witness to oppose the application during the public hearing. He objected to vinyl, of course, but also to the three-pane pattern of the new windows already installed. The old windows facing Third Avenue have two panes.

It’s not clear what happens next, whether for instance the city will make the church tear out the 23 vinyl windows already completed in this latest phase. (Planning manager Scott Whyte told the commission that older window replacements going back 20 years are protected by the statute of limitations.)

Bill Ryals, the Albany architect and member of Landmarks, lamented the position the application created for the commission, given the no-permit work already done. His point was that the panel had no choice but to reject the application, but he worried this would lead to an article on hh-today about “how mean we are.” (hh)


10 responses to “Vinyl windows? Landmarks panel says no”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    It is impossible to parody the buffoonery at work here.

    Nobody would be able to distinguish between the parody and the reality.

  2. James Engel says:

    Time to drive the Landmarks group outta town! Another example of way, way too much power in the hands of a few people! Shame on them. This kind of government way over reach is what fuels a Jan 6 type action!

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Try volunteering to wear a target on your back Jim – it’s good for the soul…

      • James Engel says:

        I did Ray. For a little over 29 years I wore an APD badge. AND every time that ass-o-9 council made a lousy decision I was the visible government guy that got pissed on!

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Thank you for your service. Although, I hardly conflate that to being a volunteer, as are committee-commission members…

  3. Birdieken says:

    This School / Church has been a good steward for the property they own. Would it be better for the church to just let it run down until its dilapidated, like the old Saint Francis Hotel? If you want to modernize your property for energy efficiency how is that different than adding plumbing or electrical upgrades? There needs to be a middle ground where the cost of doing nothing is considered like the Whitespire Church. I can’t even imagine the sweetheart deal to restore that property.

  4. Jake Jaques JJ Johnny Hartman says:

    There are decent arguments on both sides of this issue. But, the author never stopped to consider that most Church-owned properties do not pay any property tax due to lax laws which evolved in this nation out of a general obeisance to the so-called christian values.

    On a side note: Allowing religious properties property tax avoidance status seems a backdoor to state-supported religion, but that’s an argument for another day.

    If the church and it’s adherents were willing to pay a market-based property tax, perhaps the public would be more inclined to allow plastic-framed windows in this truly unremarkable building. A sort of Quid Pro Quo. What with free police and fire protection, free road maintenance, and several other tax-avoidance rules governing religious groups, paying a fair share seems a small price to retain the architectural integrity of Albany.

  5. michael quinn says:

    so if i hear right, you need a permit to replace a window that the church has been doing. so to me it sounds like the building official needs to go to LOWES and HOME DEPOT and set up a kiosk and anyone caught buying windows from either company needs a permit, you have got to be kidding, big time overreach,

    • Faith from Farm State says:

      Yes! A lot of overreach every where. Every state. Includes TEXAS

      It is astounding. Weird to boot. kick kick

  6. Local Citizen (R Graham) says:

    Seems to me that the city owned a church for quite a few years and they didn’t take care of it AT ALL. Since we, the taxpayers paid for it – perhaps we can have some say in if we think it’s ok for the “Church at 420” to have vinyl windows. We are very grateful for the lovely care the congregation provides to the building.

    If it has taken this long to be noticed, is it really an issue?


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