By Tommi O. Peters
For The Tribune
TRUSSVILLE – The regularly scheduled Oct. 22 meeting of the Design Review Committee was largely dedicated to residences within the Cahaba Project.
Erin Matthews presented plans for a second story addition to her home, including the original design and previous first-floor addition. The DRC recommended design revisions to include six-over-six double-hung windows rather than casement windows, gable treatments over dormers rather than shed dormers, specification of elevation height, and more. The group plans to review Matthews’ design revisions at a workshop in two weeks.
Building addition and exterior updates were presented for a residence within the 100 block of Parkway Drive. Homeowner Jason Garner expressed appreciation for recommendations, but reminded the committee that his home is non-contributing.
Contributing homes are those built within the same period of historical significance and displaying architectural characteristics similar to one another. Non-contributing homes are typically considered those within close proximity to historical districts, though not necessarily built within the same time period as others deemed original.
Committee Member Matt Phillips conceded, “I understand that your home isn’t contributing. So, ultimately, it’s your decision. But you have an opportunity to get it as close as possible to the character of the project homes. The board and batten isn’t typical for the project homes.”
The committee approved Garner’s presentation with recommendations for shake siding and six-over-six double-hung windows rather than the presented plan of board and batten siding and casement windows.
Committee Chairman Ryan Dawkins recused himself as the panel reviewed exterior paint color and shutters presented by his sister-in-law, Kenley Nelms for her home within the 100 block of South Mall.
“I know that you all are here tonight taking time away from your families and I appreciate what you’re doing. But my paint color went from gray to gray and there are six other homes around me that painted their homes or built an addition and never came in front of Design Review,” offered Nelms.
“I’m happy to do this as I know a lot of the other homeowners are. I have two neighbors with me tonight that are painting their homes that have not been contacted. We wanted to come do this the way you want us to. But frustration comes in that nobody knows the standards or rules.”
Freeman observed, “Since the start of the demolition of homes on Meadow Lane, I have suggested that the homeowners of the Cahaba Project get together and come up with recommendations to bring them to the City Council. Let’s try to get something together that works. But as of the last City Council Meeting, we still haven’t seen anything.”
City Council Member Dr. Zach Steele also came before the committee to present shutters and shutter color for his home in the 500 block of Rockridge Avenue for review.
Dr. Steele noted twice that he was before the committee voluntarily before commenting, “The fact that I have to come before you for an exterior change to my home that is a shutter when others can request a demolition permit for $100 with no oversight and no regulatory authority at all, something is amiss with our city ordinances.”
“Part of your ordinance says that you are an ‘ever-evolving body’ and I think you guys do a fantastic job. I’d like to see you guys evolve into a position of authority so that you can become regulatory over demolition in the Cahaba Project.”
Chairman Dawkins also recused himself from paint color presentation for his own residence. His wife, Brannan, presented to the remaining five committee members.
“I thought it was very interesting that the day after a city meeting where we had become very vocal about what’s going on in our neighborhood that my sister is literally the first person from the Cahaba Projects to be summoned in – and it’s for an already-completed paint job,” observed Dawkins.
“I lived in a project house across from the library for years and painted it twice post-Design Review Committee, and no one ever said that we needed to come before Design Review. So if that is going to be Mr. Arnett’s job from this point forward, I think that the city needs to send a letter to property owners reminding them of the ordinance.”
David Arnett is the Department Head of Inspections for the City and rebutted, “I drove through the project and saw a house being painted. I asked my employee to relay that information. I’m not from around here. I don’t know what your station is in the community and I don’t really care. It’s not my job to go check the records to be sure you’re not the first one, but we have to start somewhere.”
Dawkins continued, “My husband chairs this committee and neither one of us realized that we needed a formal recommendation for paint change. I’d come down here and fill out a form and sit through this meeting every time I change the wreath on my door if I thought it would save and protect that neighborhood.”
DRC Member and City Councilor Jef Freeman interjected, “The city went for over twenty years overlooking things that needed to be addressed. We’re in the process of trying to refine this whole process. It is my wish that all those regulations be distributed for everyone in the Cahaba Project to review and comment on and put out on our website for review.”
Additional residential items recommended as presented included:
- Cahaba Project Residence, 100 block of Pine Street: design, materials and colors for building addition
- Cahaba Project Residence, 200 block of Lake Street: exterior paint color only
- Cahaba Project Residence, 500 block of Rockridge Avenue: shutter design and color
Commercial items recommended as presented included:
- Cambridge Subdivision: monument sign
- Salon Blonde: wall sign
- U Break I Fix: wall sign
- Spectrum Cable: three signs for new location within Homestead Village
- Dobbs & Adkins, DDS: exterior paint, lighting, landscaping and parking lot upgrades
The meeting concluded with plans for a Nov. 5th Workshop to review the existing committee ordinance, develop consistent parameters, and clarify what elements are needed for presentation to the DRC. Once confirmed, a start time for the meeting will be posted.