HPA No. 1990-418, 1991-418 (In re. Aluisi Residence)
- HPA Number: 1990-418/1991-418
- Case Name: In re 517 2nd Street, SE
- Location of Property: 517 2nd Street, SE, Square 136 Lot 736
- Date of Decision: March 10, 1992
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Alteration, specifically to install vinyl replacement windows
- Disposition: Approved
Summary of Decision:
Toni Aluisi (the " Applicant ") requested a permit for alteration of her property at 517 2nd Street, S. E. , which is located in the Capitol Hill Historic District. Specifically, the Applicant sought retroactive approval for the vinyl replacement windows that she installed on both floors of her house. Though the Mayor's Agent determined that the vinyl "replacement windows are not compatible with the date and style of the house," and that "[v]inyl windows are absolutely unacceptable in any restoration in the Historic District of Capitol Hill," the Mayor's Agent did approve the permit to use vinyl replacement windows "in this one instance. " Approval was proper "because of so many mitigating circumstances in the instant case. "
Specific reasons included that (1) the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission did not take a position on the issue; and (2) the Capitol Hill Restoration Society was willing to allow vinyl windows for this particular case because "the applicant was not provided with the proper information by the permit office, the police did not perform properly, and in this case… it takes a discriminating eye to see the difference between the vinyl and wooden windows. "However, the opinion does not specifically state what misinformation the Applicant received or what the police did incorrectly. The Mayor's Agent seems to rely upon the tolerance of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society to indicate that "it appears that the historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage of the Historic District is preserved. "
Mayor's Agent - Procedural:
- "The property owner has the burden of proving that the proposed alteration is consistent with the purposes of the Act as set forth in §2(b) of the Act. "
- Notice of a public meeting before the Mayor's Agent is provided to "the applicant, abutting property owners, affected ANC and those listed on the Historic Preservation Division mailing list. "
Unreasonable Economic Hardship:
The Applicant first appealed the decision of the Historic Preservation Review Board on the grounds that failure to issue a permit would "result in an onerous and excessive financial burden;" however, the Applicant amended this basis of appeal to argue that the alteration is consistent with the purposes of the Act.
- The Mayor's Agent found that twenty-two of the thirty houses on the 500 Block of Second Street in the Capitol Hill Historic District "have some form of vinyl windows installed," and approved the use of vinyl windows in the instant case. Nevertheless, the Mayor's Agent made strong conclusions that the use of vinyl windows in the Historic District, stating that they "cannot be condoned" and are "absolutely unacceptable. "
- The Applicant's windows, prior to replacement with vinyl, were wood replacement windows "installed prior to the designation of the area as an Historic District. "However, the fact that they were replacement windows "does not relieve the applicant from the obligation to install an appropriate replacement sash now. "The "historic woodwork framing surrounding the windows" apparently was original and did not change with the alteration. Though the Mayor's Agent uses strong language to speak against the use of vinyl windows, he concedes that "it takes a discriminating eye to see the difference between the vinyl and wooden windows. "He also used strong language surrounding the sale of vinyl windows, namely, "Where a contractor or salesman represents that vinyl is acceptable [for use in a historic district]... a complaint should be filed with the Office of Compliance of [the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs] against such a contractor or salesman. "
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United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit (1999-12-17)
United States District Court for the District of Columbia (1998-09-25)
District of Columbia. Court of Appeals (1995-11-17)