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HLC urges application approval

By Staff | Jun 17, 2011

Monday, the Shepherdstown Historic Landmarks Commission recommended approval of a series of applications which the Catholic Diocese of Arlington Office of Youth Ministry applied for on behalf of area homeowners as well as held a workshop with a Washington Street resident who is looking to install solar energy on his property.

Paul Bevins, WorkCamp coordinator from the Office of Youth Ministry, represented the homeowners’ applications, which sought repairs, maintenance and additions – such as access ramps – to their homes.

According to a letter sent to Mayor Jim Auxer in May, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s youth ministry sponsors a one-week WorkCamp with high school-aged students. This June, they will repair several homes throughout Shepherdstown.

At Monday’s meeting, Bevins said that the WorkCamp found its residents through the Good Shepherd Caregivers, a local nonprofit which provides services to seniors and disabled residents in Jefferson County.

Commissioners unanimously recommended that the Shepherdstown Planning Commission approve all six applications that the Catholic Diocese applied for on behalf of the residents.

Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners met with Washington Street resident Joe Yates who is considering applying for a permit to install photovoltaic panels on his property.

Yates said he and his wife have been researching solar energy for years. What was once not as practical of an idea is now.

Yates said Berkeley Springs-based energy company Mountain View Solar and Wind surveyed his property and said the most efficient area to harness the sun’s energy would be on the rooftop facing Washington Street because it is south-facing. The second most efficient rooftop would be the one over the side yard, facing east.

Yates, who also owns the property next door at 205 W. Washington St., said he would even entertain the possibility of placing the photovoltaics on that property over the garage, which he said is not structurally sound and would need to be rebuilt.

The HLC’s guidelines state that solar collectors should be on rear sections of buildings “or in other areas not readily visible to the public.”

Commissioner Jay Hurley said while the commission has guidelines to follow “this is one situation where I embrace new technology.” He and Yates discussed the linguistics behind the guidelines, such as the phrase “should be located on rear sections.”

Commissioner Alice Chakmakian said she personally would have a problem if the solar panels were visible from the main street but did not see a problem if they were on a side roof or another building’s roof on the property.

HLC Chair Hank Williard said he was also somewhat apprehensive about the visual effect of placing the panels on Washington Street side, afraid it could lead to a slippery slope.

Yates spoke with commissioners about the best way to craft his application and reiterated how serious he and his family was about this project.

“It’s a big investment, and it’s a lot of panels,” he said. “But I want to see that meter spin backward.”

The next historic landmarks commission meeting is July 11 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. The planning commission will hear HLC’s recommendations at its meeting this Monday, June 20 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.