HPA No. 2011-490 (In re. Douglas McFadden Residence)
- HPA Number: 2011-490
- Case Name: In the Matter of: Application of Douglas McFadden
- Location of Property: 1566 33rd Street, NW; Square 1273, Lot 840
- Date of Decision: August 20, 2012
- Type of Case/Type of Permit Sought: Alteration
- Disposition: Subject Matter(s): Windows; Residential; Historical District; Special Merit - General; Compatible
Summary of Decision:
In the summer of 2009, Douglas McFadden (the "Applicant") hired a contractor to replace the windows in his non-contributing single family house in the Georgetown Historic District. The contractor replaced the wooden windows with vinyl windows without seeking a permit. Shortly thereafter, the Historic Preservation Office ("HPO") issued a stop-work order. The Applicant entered into a settlement agreement with the District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs ("DCRA") in regard to the failure to obtain the proper permits. However, the Applicant never sought historic preservation clearance and a permit, and HPO issued two subsequent Notices of Infraction.
In 2011, the Applicant sought a permit authorizing the alteration of the exterior after the fact. The Old Georgetown Board of the Commission of Fine Arts and the Commission itself both recommended denying the permit. The Commission’s recommendation letter stated that "vinyl windows on [the] front façade ... are not consistent with the original character of the building or the Old Georgetown historic district in general because the material and profiles are not consistent with the historic wood detailing."
At the Mayor's Agent hearing, the Applicant argued this window replacement was a project of special merit because 1) the settlement with DCRA essentially approved his windows; 2) vinyl windows were installed in the Georgetown Recreation Center in recent years; and 3) the cost to replace the windows would be $8,000, an economic hardship.
Because the Applicant made no effort to address the statutory standards, the Mayor's Agent rejected the argument that this was a project of special merit. Furthermore, the settlement from DCRA did not and could not permit him to install windows without a historic preservation clearance and incompatible with established regulations and guidelines. The Mayor's Agent also rejected the economic burden argument of the Applicant, concluding that any burden was self-inflicted by the Applicant's failure to seek historic review approval before proceeding with window replacement. The Mayor's Agent rejected the permit and gave the Applicant 75 days to install compatible windows pursuant to an appropriate permit.
DC Municipal Regulations (10A DCMR 2310.1) authorize permits for replacement windows in a non-contributing building within an historic district, if the windows are appropriate for the building and compatible with the historic district.
The HPO and Commission on Fine Arts consistently find vinyl windows incompatible with historic districts because vinyl windows have a different finish from traditional wood and metal windows, and they also have profiles and dimensions of constituent parts that differ.
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