The Rome Historic Preservation Commission debated whether there should be penalties for projects that are completed without final approval — such as was done with additions atop the historic building at 100 S. Broad St.
Although the commission was fine with the look of a railing and a covering over the outdoor patio of the rooftop clerestory done by property owners Tim and Molly Vicchrilli, at least one HPC member and City Commissioner Evie McNiece expressed reservations over approving the project after the fact, without imposing some sort of fine.
“Have we ever considered — and it may even be illegal — fining any of these people who just go and do whatever the Hades they want to do?” HPC member Mary Sib Banks asked after the project was given unanimous approval. “The way I look at it is, we’re condoning their not coming to us by just overlooking whatever they do.”
Longtime member Roger Wade said he didn’t think the problem was prevalent enough to start imposing fines — and even if they did, it would be difficult to keep track of everything.
“You’ve got someone spending, in this case in particular, almost a million dollars on that doggone building on the end of Broad Street that is added to the tax base,” Wade said of the Vicchrillis, who also own the Pro Performance Fitness Coaching business on the first floor. “They’re doing a conscientious job. Why penalize somebody? It just seems like bureaucratic red tape to me.”
McNiece said she agreed with Banks’ concern and cautioned the commission about future projects where the property owners are asking for forgiveness later.
“If you allow a little here, a little there ... I agree they’re putting the money in and having the tax base and stuff, but you have to be really careful because someone can say you allowed them to do it and you’re not allowing others to do it,” McNiece said. “You just have to be really, really careful what you do and what you don’t do or what you deny.”
Chief Building Official James Martin asked commissioners if they would actually deny applicants if they had to come back for approval after already completing projects.
Martin said it was not uncommon for projects to stray from their original design.
“If I went through them piece by piece, a lot of them would have to come back to us,” Martin said. “I don’t know if the commission wants me to fine people, but if that’s what they want we can do it, but that’s not what I want to do.”
Wade said that in his 16 years of being on the commission, he could only recall one project that was completed without approval where the commission required the applicant to remove the unapproved portions.
“There was the time we forced that young man to take those blasted stacked rocks off the front of the building next to The Forrest,” Wade said.
Wade said that although the Vicchrillis did go ahead and extend the railing on the rooftop to reach all the way across the front — instead of only halfway, as was in the original plan — he thought it looked better that way, anyway.
The covering over the clerestory’s rooftop porch also was done in a fashion that was attractive and did not detract from the historic facade of the building built in the early 1900s, the commission agreed in the end.
“It’s quite impressive,” Martin said.
The project’s contractor, Ron Goss, thanked the commission for allowing his client’s vision to proceed despite the fact that they had Goss apologize to the commission at the start of Wednesday’s meeting.
“On behalf of the messenger, thanks for not shooting me,” Goss said, prompting laughter from the commission.