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HPC to discuss doors, windows in meeting

June 26, 2012

The Starkville Historic Preservation Commission will discuss a draft of design guidelines pertaining to windows, doors, shutters, awnings, canopies and storefronts at its meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall’s building department.

Under the guideline draft, building owners would be required to consult the HPC before replacing original exterior doors or replacing an existing window to accommodate interior changes. It also requires owners to present evidence of an unsuccessful attempt to repair a window before replacing it, but the same requirement is not given for doors.

The draft also features several recommendations for energy savings from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. At its last meeting, the HPC voted to create a supplemental packet for historic preservation recommendations pertaining to building sites, settings and landscaping, separate from the main guidelines that actually have force of law.

City Planner Ben Griffith said he is uncertain whether the HPC will move the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s recommendations to the supplement, as he has not spoken with the commissioners about that possibility.

“That (change) would maybe stand to reason,” Griffith said. “They’ve suggested having a separate section so there’s no confusion about what’s required or what’s not.”

Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director David Preziosi, who is writing the guideline drafts, said the decision is up to the commission, but it would be atypical to move any guidelines about windows and doors to a separate section.

“It’s really going to depend on the commission, on what they want to review,” Preziosi said. “Usually, those are not typically moved to a separate section, because windows and doors are a significant part of a building’s character. I think the separate section they want to create (on) landscape features and (similar) items is fine. We also talked about potentially putting the section on changes to commercial buildings in the supplemental material as well.”

The draft does allow storm window and door installation; it says interior storm windows are preferable to exterior ones, but it allows for the latter so long as the exterior storm windows match the size of the exterior opening and are as unobtrusive as possible. The draft also recommends avoiding burglar bars and security doors.

“Security or burglar bars give a negative impression to potential residents, businesses, and tourists, because widespread installation implies a high crime rate,” the draft says. “Property owners should consider electronic security systems for safety and appearance.”

Finally, the commission will revisit its process for certificates of appropriateness, which HPCs use to grant people permission to externally alter buildings they own in compliance with preservation guidelines.

For the past few months, the HPC has been working with Preziosi on design guidelines for historic buildings. Once these guidelines are complete, the commission can establish local historic districts which may share similarities with the three Starkville districts already on the National Register of Historic Places, but the districts do not have to match exactly.

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