BY SARAH R. GREGORY
Meeting Wednesday, members of the Greeneville Historic Zoning Commission approved plans for a new deck to be built at 214 N. Main St. -- the Valentine Sevier house, currently under renovation.
The only other item of business was designating a commissioner to take and produce minutes of the board's meetings.
The Valentine Sevier home on North Main Street was built in 1820-21 by prominent business, political and philanthropic leader Valentine Sevier, nephew of Tennessee's first governor, John Sevier.
It was purchased in late 2012 by Andrea "Andy" Daniels and her husband, Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, and has undergone extensive renovations, inside and out.
The structure was vacant for a number of years prior to the Daniels' purchase, and fell into a state of disrepair that included structural problems and leaks.
Tuesday's action by the commission allows the replacement of a deck, located at the rear of the house, to move forward.
A redwood deck near the rear of the structure was previously removed, and plans call for a new deck to be constructed of premium pressure-treated lumber, stained opaque white.
A 'SIMPLE' DESIGN
The new deck's design is simple, according to architect Noah Young, who created the plans.
Young is also a member of the commission, but did not vote on the matter due to his involvement with the project.
"We just kind of went with something pretty simple, based mostly on the Andrew Johnson house, where they have just a recessed rim from the posts, and there's a little bit of molding to define it," Young said.
Young provided plans for the addition and photos of other area historic homes to serve as examples.
A CHANGED PLAN
An earlier draft of plans, which included decorative corners placed by the supporting posts, was also briefly reviewed.
At a previous meeting of the board, commissioner Roger Hankins, who is also an architect, pointed out that such a decorative element seemed to be more in line with a Victorian-style home.
At that time, Young said he would review the plan and take that into consideration.
"I was just worried about it [the posts supporting the deck] being too stilt-like," Young said Tuesday of his earlier design that included decorative corners by the deck's posts.
"That's one thing I don't like about decks," he said, adding that "the initial proposal was just a way of softening that feel of the stilt-like [appearance]."
The board did not officially consider the matter or take action at the previous meeting, and information was presented only as a brief preview of what would be added to the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.
NO GOOD PRECEDENT
"There's no good historic precedent for any of this, so it's kind of a tricky thing," Young said.
Discussion on the topic was brief.
Chairman Sarah Webster asked Young if the property's owners were satisfied with the revised plans presented to the board for approval Tuesday.
"I think so," Young responded.
"We've gone back and forth and looked at each kind of aspect of it. We just kind of want to make sure the board okays it and go from there and do something appropriate.
"It's just kind of about functionality of the space for the homeowner. They want to have that outdoor space," Young said.
Mayor W.T. Daniels was present for a portion of the meeting, but did not speak in response to the question posed to Young.
When asked by The Greeneville Sun after the meeting if he was satisfied with the revised plan, he said that, as a homeowner, he felt as if he had "very little say in the matter, really."
Daniels said "in terms of decorative elements [such as corner molding], it's really just a matter of taste and what people prefer."
Daniels added, however, that he was glad that plans for the deck's construction could move forward.
NOT PART OF 'PRIMARY VIEW'
While reviewing the plans during the meeting, Commissioner Bill Moskowitz asked if Young had "given any thought to moving the stairs to the front [of the deck] to sort of break up" the look of the home's bricks.
Young cited the orientation of the building, access to the deck, and the flow of the layout from the home's driveway on the outside, or from the kitchen on the inside, as reasons for stairs to remain on the side, as planned.
"The back, what you're seeing [a lot of brick] here, is the College Street side," Young explained, adding that that side of the home is effectively "a secondary façade."
Young also noted that the deck will be added to a portion of the home that was added after the original structure was built.
"It's not a primary view, is what I'm saying. I don't think you'll even see this view [as shown on architectural plans] from Main Street at all. It's completely obscured," he said.
At the conclusion of the discussion, Commissioner Melinda Hickerson made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Charles Alter, that the plans be approved.
The measure passed unanimously, with Young not voting.
DALTON TO DRAFT MINUTES
Commissioners decided, but did not take a formal vote, to designate Commissioner D.J. Dalton to produce minutes based on recordings made during each meeting.
Designation of a commission member to "take and produce the minutes and set the agenda for the Historic Zoning Commission" was the only other item of new business on Tuesday's agenda.
Building Inspector Bert Seay had been producing minutes of each meeting.
However, since Seay is one of the Town's enforcement officers for decisions made by the Historic Zoning Commission, Webster indicated that a potential for conflict-of-interest issues could arise.
"We have a situation here that we have not had before," Webster said, explaining that building clerks who have taken minutes for the board in the past did not present such potential for conflict-of-interest issues since they did not conduct building inspections.
After brief discussion, Dalton said she would be willing to compose the minutes, which are filed at Greeneville Town Hall and open to the public for review.
No other commissioners expressed interest in the responsibility.
The process for setting the Historic Zoning Commission's agenda will remain the same as it has been. As chairman, Webster prepares the agenda.
Applications to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness for a project in the Historic Zone are submitted to the Town's Building Department.
From there, applications are forwarded to Webster, as chairman, to be added to the agenda no fewer than 10 days from a scheduled meeting.