HPA No. 2002-322 (In re. Jerome and Courville Residence)
- HPA Number: 2002-322
- Case Name: In the Matter of: Robert W. Jerome and William J. Courville
- Location of Property: 1801 Lamont Street, N.W.
- Date of Decision: October 28, 2002
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Construction
- Disposition: Denied
- Date of Case Summary: December 4, 2014
- Subject Matter(s): Economic Hardship-Generally; Historical District; Residential; Alteration
Summary of Decision:
William Courville and Robert Jerome (“Applicants”) sought a construction permit to replace badly rotted wooden eaves and the Mansard green clay tile roof on their Mt. Pleasant rowhouse. After negotiations between the Applicants and Historic Preservation Staff, the staff report recommended to the Historic Preservation Review Board (“HPRB”) that it approve a re-roofing of the house using a combination of salvaged existing tiles on some of the move visible areas, in addition to significant applications of copper cladding materials in a carefully planned complimentary manner. HPRB rejected the staff’s copper cladding compromise and determined that if the eaves and roof tile are replaced, replacement materials must be an identical type. HPRB found that to allow the roof to be replaced with materials not similar to the existing green roof tile would not be consistent with the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978 (the “Act”).
Applicants then appealed to the Mayor’s Agent, claiming that replacing the roof as HPRB required would cost much more and post an undue burden and economic hardship on them. The Mayor’s Agent sided with HPRB, concluding that the Applicants had not met the burden of showing their preferred replacement would be consistent with the Act, that while the increased costs were significant, the Applicants could still sell their property and make a large profit and were not deprived of their property’s use. Moreover, the Mayor’s Agent found that the Applicants elected to reside in an historic district and so they must abide by the responsibilities that come with the privilege of living in such a district.
Applicants stated that in order to meet HPRB’s expectations, they would have to assume $61,000 in additional debt over a 15 year period. The Mayor’s Agent noted that the Applicants would realize a sizable $500,000 profit if they were to sell their house and that they also received $9,000 in annual income from a basement rental unit (the rent for which had not increased in 16 years).
While requiring the re-installation of the same or similar tile is a more costly option for property owners, the Mayor’s Agent found it to be in alignment with historic district. The Mayor’s Agent, citing the Staff Report, emphasized that most of the houses on Lamont Street had the same green tile roofs as the Applicants’ and that the roof material is “important to defining the character of the buildings they cover…Any substantial change in the character of the roof would have a decidedly negative effect on the character of the district and would likely encourage inappropriate roof replacement on other properties.”
Cost of alternatives may be one factor, but the Mayor’s Agent, citing the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Guidelines, noted that “consideration should first be given to maintaining the existing material, element or detail.”
The Mayor’s Agent also concluded that living in an historic district was a privilege, and since the Applicants chose to do so voluntarily, they were subject to a higher level of responsibility than a homeowner in a non-historical district.
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Frederick Douglass Community Improvement Council/Concerned Citizens of Anacostia v. District of Columbia Office of Planning., Historic Preservation Office District of Columbia. Court of Appeals (2015)