Home Windows Denied by Design Review After the Fact

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A woman living on Lorain Road will have to go back to the drawing board for new windows on her home after the Design Review Committee rejected the ones she picked — and had installed already.
The DRC voted unanimously at its Feb. 15 meeting to deny applicant Sarah Myint’s retroactive request to install the new windows, which, barring an appeal, will force her to remove the windows and install any of the preapproved options for her neighborhood and home style.
Myint said she had a contractor install the new energy-efficient glass to replace several of the original windows without knowing or being told that she needed to have prior approval. The DRC took issue with the new windows being a single pane of glass, as opposed to being divided by muntins (the wood or metal strips that divide windows).
The DRC agreed with staff findings that the neighborhood and the French style of the home called for the windows to retain the muntins, also called divided lites.
“I think the windows have a very commercial appearance,” DRC member John Dustin said. “The vast majority of homes in that area have original windows with true divided lites.”
Myint pleaded with the DRC to overlook her procedural error, noting that eight of her neighbors formally approved of the changes and none objected and that some agreed with her that the windows were an improvement.
“It looks more sophisticated,” Myint told the DRC. “My neighbors have all approved it and City Hall has all the letters for that. No one is here to oppose.”
Myint admitted she was “a bit shallow” in how she went about replacing her windows and emphatically apologized, adding she initially felt it was such a minor change that it wouldn’t be a big deal.
However, as several DRC members pointed out, the committee must consider all hearings as hypotheticals even if they come after the fact.
“If it was presented to us tonight as a new option, we would have turned it down,” said alternative DRC member Judy Johnson-Brody. “That’s the standard by which we operate.”
The DRC also took up several other matters at its Feb. 15 meeting:
• A proposed first- and second-story addition for the home at 2763 Gainsborough Drive was unanimously approved on the condition that the bathroom in the second-story addition make its window frosted and a model that opens top-down. A neighbor had expressed concerns about privacy, given the large size of the window.
• A proposed detached three-car garage, front yard fencing and other exterior modifications for the home at 1665 Del Mar Ave. was continued until the March 15 meeting primarily because the architecture of the garage did not appear to follow any one particular style. Johnson-Brody at one point called it an “amalgamation of styles.”
• A proposed first- and second-story addition and remodel at 1200 Old Mill Road was continued until April 5. DRC members concurred that it was too obvious that the second story, as currently designed, was an addition to the original home. Dustin and DRC member Kevin Cheng expressed support for a hip roof in favor of the originally proposed gable roof for the second story as well.
• The hearing for a proposed new two-story home with an attached one-car garage and a new detached two-car garage was continued because the public notice for the hearing, which is supposed to stand for at least 10 days before the hearing, was either knocked down or not in place at all for a portion of that time frame.

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