Approval near on 8-unit Leicester Square project

Posted: February 21, 2014

The Winchester Star

Board members voted 4-0 to table discussion of a request to approve an outdoor cafe design for Violino Ristorante Italiano at 181 N. Loudoun St.
The Board of Architectural Review approved the expansion of the covered deck at Piccadilly’s Public House. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — A local developer and City Council member did not get all the needed approvals from the Winchester Board of Architectural Review (BAR) Thursday, but he got enough to start moving forward with his project.

BAR members voted 4-0 to approve major facets of John Willingham’s proposed Leicester Square townhouse project, including the site plan and key materials.

However, no agreement was reached on roofing materials or outdoor lighting, and board members want more detail regarding the porch design.

The affirmative decisions, Willingham said, allow him to begin pricing materials to nail down the costs involved in the eight-unit infill development.

“This project is moving forward. This is the final piece,” the City Council president and owner of Stoneridge Development said after the board’s decision. “We can continue to negotiate roof design and lighting.

“There’s lots of interest in this project. We needed to get over the hurdle we did today, and hopefully we’ll break ground in the next few months.”

The project would result in the construction of three buildings near the corner of Loudoun and Leicester streets. A duplex with front and rear units would be built on a vacant lot at 412 S. Loudoun St., and two three-unit townhouse rows would be constructed behind that at 10 E. Leicester St.

The major sticking point is Willingham’s desire to use architectural shingles. The board members insisted that a metal roof — an expensive feature — is more consistent with structures in the historic district, though the shingles Willingham wants to use are higher quality than the traditional asphalt roofing materials.

William Wiley, who is representing Willingham, showed the board members photographs of lesser-quality shingles on houses in the area and said those used on Leicester Square would be an improvement compared to many neighboring structures.

Board Chairman Tom Rockwood countered that the aging neighboring properties that might have had shingles before the historic district was created don’t represent a new standard.

“If we consider those as precedents,” he said, “we have a one-way ratchet downward.”

Willingham responded that asphalt shingles have been allowed in the district before, including on some Habitat for Humanity houses along Baker Street.

“We’re trying to be consistent,” he said, “but trying to be forward-thinking as well.”

Wiley lobbied the board members for consideration, saying multiple concessions already had been made that have increased the cost of the project and that the shingles would be of a high quality.

Sandra Bosley, Preservation of Historic Winchester’s executive assistant, interjected in the discussion, reading from the historic district’s guidelines that slate or metal roofing is recommended on new construction in the district.

City Planner Will Moore didn’t disagree with her, but he noted that the guidelines were written before architectural shingles were in use.

The board also tabled a request by Lanita Byrne, owner of Espresso Bar & Cafe at 165 N. Loudoun St., regarding her outdoor cafe fencing.

Following last year’s renovations on the Loudoun Street Mall, restaurateurs no longer were allowed to secure cafe fencing to the mall surface and new standards regarding fence height and other features were approved.

Byrne said the result was that the fencing had to be placed into concrete footers, and that raised it 9 inches above the 48-inch maximum allowable height for administrative approval. She also is seeking design approval of a planter to be used for stabilization.

It wasn’t until just before the meeting that it was pointed out that her design shows the fence protruding 17 feet into the public right of way. Fifteen feet is the maximum allowed.

Under the circumstances, board members seemed willing to compromise on the fence height but they tabled the issue because eliminating 2 feet of fence will affect the overall design.

The panel, however, did approve the request of Dale Massey to expand the covered deck at Piccadilly’s Public House and Restaurant at 125 E. Piccadilly St.

He intends to extend the deck into the space north of the stairway that leads to ground-level outdoor seating and will use the same materials and design.

The board members also:

Voted 4-0 to grant a certificate of appropriateness for Southern States/Winchester Coop Inc. to construct a lean-to canopy and a hoop house for display purposes at 447 Amherst St.

Voted 4-0 to grant a certificate of appropriateness for Bryan Rentals LLC to install a fence at 21-31 E. Boscawen St.

Voted 4-0 to table discussion of a request to approve an outdoor cafe design for Violino Ristorante Italiano at 181 N. Loudoun St.

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were Chairman Tom Rockwood and board members Patricia Jackson, Peter Serafin and Kevin Walker. Vice-Chairman Tim Bandyke was absent.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com