College Hill Conservation District
November 7, 2019
A meeting of the Easton Conservation District Committee to continue discussing specific regulations for a Conservation District in Easton’s College Hill neighborhood was held at 900 Paxinosa Avenue on Thursday, November 7, 2019. Copies of these minutes will be distributed via email to all parties who have provided their email address at this and all previous Conservation District meetings, and will also be posted at www.EastonConservationDistricts.com.
Important notes: In February 2019, the Easton Conservation District was instructed by the Easton Planning Commission to coordinate all of its efforts with any proposed ordinance revisions to be developed in the coming months by Easton’s planning and code staff. A draft of the staff’s proposed revisions was made public on November 6, 2019 (a day before the Committee meeting), and had not been reviewed at the time of this meeting. A subsequent cursory review indicates that the Committee is looking at some items—such as regulations governing demolition—that are NOT included in the City’s draft, but there are other items being considered by the Committee—such as regulations governing walls on property lines or porch enclosures—that are not only covered in the City’s draft, but seem to have MORE STRINGENT guidelines than proposed by the Committee.
A meeting with City officials to address any discrepancies in proposed Conservation District ordinances (or to eliminate any items that are more comprehensively or appropriately covered by the City) will probably be sought early in 2020.
Here is information from the City’s website [www.Easton-pa.com] containing a schedule of public meetings to discuss the ordinance changes proposed by City staff, and links to those proposed changes:
City will be conducting community meetings of these amendments on Thursday November 14 from 6-7:30pm in the 3rd floor conference room of City Hall, Tuesday November 19 from 6-7:30pm at the Easton Home (1022 Northampton Street), and Monday November 25 from 6-7:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club (210 Jones Houston Way)
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The Conservation District Committee meeting began at 7 pm. Discussion was led by architectural historian and planner Tom Jones. Topics were as follows:
Enforcement of Conservation District regulations. It is hoped that the Easton Planning Commission will agree to act as the reviewing agency for enforcement, in a manner similar to its current role.
Demolition. As previously agreed upon, the proposed ordinance will follow the Pottstown, PA model.
Design Regulations for New Construction. It was agreed that design standards for new construction should be required. (This was not determined at previous meetings.) Standards will be reviewed. There was general agreement that current Easton historic district guidelines (ordinances 595.224.b.3 and 318-9:F) provide an adequate framework, pursuant to reviewing how these may have changed in the currently proposed revisions.
Design Regulations for Existing Buildings and Additions. It was agreed that design standards similar to Pottstown should be required (not simply recommended), but the committee also noted that Pottstown design standards, which discourage the use of stucco, should not be used in Easton, where stucco has been a historical material in common use. Again, coordination must be done with existing and proposed Easton ordinances.
Porches. Note: There was general agreement at the September 12, 2019 meeting that Pottstown required standards should be used to address porch modifications. However, the standards in the City’s proposed ordinance revisions are more stringent than those of Pottstown and perhaps will be endorsed by the Committee in lieu of Pottstown regulations.
Fences and Walls. It was agreed that design standards similar to Pottstown should be required (not simply “recommended”), but amended to exclude (facing public rights-of-way) oversized masonry units, cyclone and stockade fences. Note: The standards in the City’s proposed ordinance revisions are in some cases more stringent than those of Pottstown, and may also be considered for endorsement by the Committee.
Property-owner Assistance and Cost of Improvements. It was agreed that providing design assistance to property owners proposing improvements that fall under these guidelines should be provided at minimal or no cost. This may be done in some instances based upon programs that are or may soon be available at the local or county level. However, the nature of such assistance, if any, is beyond the scope of this committee. The committee did emphasize, however, that it is not the intent of these regulations to require the use of materials or preservation techniques of the same type and quality as may be required in the downtown National Historic District. For example: the proposed conservation districts may require that window replacements in existing buildings must be the same size as current or original openings, but required window types and materials will NOT be specified. Another example dealt with mortars used for brick repointing: historic mortar mixes will NOT be required.
Boundaries for a College Hill Conservation District. After considerable discussion, the Committee agreed that the proposed boundaries of the College Hill Conservation District shall include all the land from the north bank of the Bushkill Creek or the north side of Route 22 (where Route 22 is north of Bushkill Creek) to the Easton boundary line. [Note: Caron Anderson and Paul Felder did not participate in this discussion.]
Tom Jones and Paul Felder said they would follow up with further meetings and discussions to continue this process.
Please send comments and corrections to Paul Felder: firstname.lastname@example.org