NEWPORT — A proposed two-story summer home on the same lot as an early 18th-century house on Washington Street encountered a new stumbling block this week after an appeal against its review of the concept plan was was supported by the Zoning Board of Review.
When evaluating an appeal against the Historic District Commission, the zoning board must argue that the commission made a prejudicial procedural error, manifest error, or that its decision was not supported by the weight evidence in the file.
At the March 28 zoning board meeting, Chairman Samuel Goldblatt argued that the appeal should be allowed because the Historic District Commission failed to properly articulate its reasoning behind the decision with respect to standards. of the historic district, resulting in a detrimental procedural error.
The historic property on the subject lot, the John Tripp House, was originally built in Providence before being removed and rebuilt at 88 Washington St. in the 1960s.
Historic preservation specialist Pieter Roos testified on behalf of the candidates at the Historic District Commission meeting in May 2021 and said that if the building was significant enough to be mentioned in the US Historic Buildings Survey of 1933, the Tripp House’s initial removal “significantly downgraded” its preservation relevance by displacing it from its original context.
Current owners and nominees William and Lisa Ruh live primarily in Del Mar, Calif., and purchased the Tripp House and land from fellow Californians Edward and Ellen Reynolds for $3.58 million in September 2020.
The proposed new build on the same lot as the Tripp House is a two-story summer home for the Ruhs and stands 29 feet, 3 inches tall with a net area of 4,380 square feet, both taller and more larger than the historic building.
Madeline Melchert testified on behalf of architectural firm Hull Cove Design, saying the house would only need a zoning variance for land coverage, but covered less land than the average Washington home. Street. She also said that the house’s setback from the Tripp house made it appear shorter from the street.
Jeremiah Lynch III, the attorney representing the Ruhs, told the Historic District Commission that the design statement submitted by Melchert as evidence of the home’s original design included a breakdown of how the new home met each standard. historical.
The draft faced two reshuffles between the initial bid and the May 2021 meeting to comply with committee and scorer feedback. Ultimately, the Historic District Commission approved the concept plan by a 6 to 1 vote, with Nancy Stafford opposed.
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The appeal to the zoning board was brought by five appellants, represented by attorney Joshua Parks in the written appeal and attorney Turner Scott at both the initial meeting of the Historic District Commission and the zoning board review.
The appellants represent three adjoining properties, 86 Washington St., 94 Washington St. and 19 Chestnut St. They argued in the appeal that the house blocked the historic view of Newport Harbor from Washington Street and did not respect bridge construction standards. between the two properties.
During the presentation at the Historic District Commission meeting, Lynch argued that the project application had received unfair attention and controversy and said that some of the naysayers were instead interested in purchasing the property from the Ruhs. .
In Goldblatt’s review of the transcript of the Historic District Commission’s meeting, he found the discussion between the commission and the plaintiff lacked scrutiny or substance and expressed concern about the confusion the commission showed as to whether a certificate of adequacy was necessary for the project to continue.
An appearance certificate is required when the exterior of a historic property or its appurtenances is altered.
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The zoning board voted to support the appeal in a 4-to-1 vote, with council member Bart Grimes voting against, and referred it to the Historic District Commission.
Grimes said he disagreed with the decision and that the commission carefully considered the size, scale, location and massing of the proposed building and its relationship to the Tripp House and that it had not committed errors in the procedures.