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Town committees making positive impact

By Staff | Sep 4, 2009

Mayor Jim Auxer

This year several notable-and positive-outcomes have resulted from decisions of the Historic Landmarks Commission (HLC) and the Planning Commission (PC); the two most recent application examples went no further than the HLC.

A town resident was informed by a contractor that a new roof was needed on his house and chose to apply for a standing seam metal roof; because the current roof contained decorative slate, the HLC denied recommending approval of the application to the PC; in addition, the HLC recommended the applicant call in an “expert” in slate to verify the roof was beyond repair.

Typically, at this point in the building permit application process, the application moves to the PC to make the decision of law-by town ordinance, the HLC only gives guidance and recommendations to the PC. When told of the HLC’s denial of approval and its recommendation, the applicant contacted another roofing contractor, who informed the applicant that the roof appeared fine and should last another 20 years. The application was withdrawn before it went to PC-and in the process the applicant saved an unnecessary five-figure roof replacement.

Another applicant withdrew a building permit application when the HLC recommended to the PC that the applicant repair entrance-way stone work and replace the metal railings with a more historically appropriate railing rather than remove and replace both with a composite deck, steps, and railing. In withdrawing the application, the applicant agreed to abide by the HLC recommendations.

Each of us may see a different significance in these two examples; what I see is that the preservation of our town’s history and historic elements do matter. Think about it:

Why did you move to Shepherdstown? The way it looked? The air of quaintness? The university? There are probably a 101 reasons why we move here, but for many of us it is because the town looked and felt comfortable, and it is far enough away from the stress of Beltway World, yet, close enough to visit and come away from assured that Shepherdstown is a far better world than Beltway.

Our town’s historic preservation is not the most inexpensive of routes for repairs and renovations; it may not be the simplest or easiest method, but look toward the current and future rewards: a little piece of the reason we live here is cleaned, repaired, and retained; and if one day we decide to shuffle off to Buffalo, the property will have maintained its historic presence and enhanced its real estate value.

Though maintenance and enhancement of a single property is a start, it is the town, our town that can use daily dose of an individual’s TLC: We can enhance appearance and value in our town through simple clean-up moments-the clean-up need not be an organized event, but a moment: pick-up a piece of discarded trash; tobacco smokers-when finished, deposit your butts in a proper receptacle; when your yard sale or concert or whatever event is over, remove the signs from yards and utility poles.

Having a neatly tended lawn is admirable, but please avoid blowing or dumping cut grass in the street: when washed away, grass clumps clog storm drain lines.

And speaking of waterthe water main break last week was to a section of line that was scheduled for repair; the Water Department worked through Sunday night and the next day until the main line was mended Monday night. Not only did our crews perform quickly and efficiently, water customers helped by conserving use which insured that throughout the break the whole service area would receive water. Thanks to you all.

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Note: For emergency-related updates and other current information, check the Town’s website at, www.shepherdstown.us.