By Sandy Barnes
Showing photographs of his frame building in a declining state of repair, Mark Wojciechowski stated his objections to its inclusion in the downtown historic district during a special Town Board hearing on Tuesday, Jan.27.
“The building is a piece of junk … an embarrassment to me,” he said. “I’m a little confused as to why the building was included in the first place.”
Wojciechowski explained he purchased the property on Third Street with plans to construct a new building that would blend with the historic district. He also said it would be cost prohibitive to renovate the existing structure, which has no foundation. “I think this falls under the economic hardship designation,” he remarked. Both Wojciechowski and Michelle Johnson, another property owner appealing the historic designation filed appeals within the required 30-day time period.
Attorney Ian McCargar, who is representing the Historic Preservation Commission, said the purpose of the judicial hearing was to determine if the designation of the two properties meet the standards of the Town ordinance establishing the district.
David Bell, the attorney representing the Town, agreed. “The issue is simply proper designation,” he stated. At the beginning of the hearing, Bell also advised the Board of Trustees they were taking part in a judicial process in which all deliberations had to be made publicly. “Essentially, all of you are sitting as judges,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem David Gregg asked commission member Sue Brungardt to explain how the loss of the two properties would affect the district. “There is no city in Colorado that allows opt outs,” Brungardt replied. “We would lose a piece of history for Berthoud … For us, it would be helpful for all properties to be in the historic district.”
Brungardt also noted the ordinance only requires owners to maintain their properties. “We’re not requiring rehabilitation,” she said, while adding that approved renovations could qualify for state assistance and tax credits.
Trustee Glen Buckingham, who serves as Town liaison to the commission, questioned Brungardt about the possibility of approving plans to construct a new building in the historic district. “If a person wanted to bring a plan forward, is there any reason for the commission to deny?” he asked. Brungardt said she didn’t know if demolishing and rebuilding in the historic district should be encouraged.
Because a third appellant, property owner and Town Attorney Bruce Fickel, was not present at the hearing, the Board decided to continue the discussion at the Feb. 10 meeting when Fickel was scheduled to make his presentation. Bell advised the Board to hear all three appeals before making a decision.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Lisa Bauer asked the Town to consider sending materials for Town Board meetings electronically to reduce paper waste. Former Mayor Milan Karspeck also spoke about the Town’s excess raw water supply and the possibility of leasing it. Town Administrator Jim White said there would be a future discussion concerning Berthoud’s water supply.