Board vote pans vent plan

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:28

    MILFORD - “After the investment that’s been made, if the (borough) does not allow us to open, it defies all logic,” Richard Snyder said last Monday night. Snyder, who is developing the historic Fauchere Hotel with Sean Strub, has admitted “millions” have been spent on the project. He was voicing frustration after the borough’s architectural review board voted to deny the developer’s latest proposal to remedy a confrontation arising from the routing of the hotel kitchen vent to a side lot visible from Broad Street. The vent construction plans should have been, but never were reviewed by the board. While the vent has prompted heated opposition from the board over the past few months, this was the first formal vote on the issue. Board member and Borough Secretary Liz Samuelson said it was only the fourth time the board has denied an application in its five-year history, which covers hundreds of applications. The board is normally an advisory panel whose decisions go before the borough council for final approval or denial. This April 10 vote was more complicated since the borough’s Zoning Hearing Board on April 6 decided to make portions of its latest ruling on the hotel contingent on the Architectural Review Board’s approval. The part of decision left to the architectural review board involved a Fauchere plan to erect a vine or plant covered trellis to hide the upright fan-head portion of the vent. The review board met in special session to hear the Fauchere proposal Monday. Chair Beth Kelley said the board is required to review the application as though no construction has been done. She voiced the direction of things to come when she said she could find no evidence of lattice being used for this kind of purpose in reference materials on mid-19th century architecture. She suggested a laid-stone wall alternative, but Snyder rejected the idea. The end result was, “My feeling is that there has to be a better way to install this vent,” Kelley said. Hotel officials have said changing the installation now would cost tens of thousands of dollars and the only other likely configuration would create an eyesore on the roof-line. While he said he was “not opposed to the means,” member Don Quick echoed Kelley’s concern about historic precedent. “I don’t have any problem with what they’re doing,” Member Jim McLain said. When McLain’s motion to approve was called for a vote, it lost 3-2, with Kelley, Quick and Code Enforcement Officer Duane Kuhn opposed. Snyder quickly left, calling the decision “ridiculous.” The Borough Council will address the recommendation at its May meeting. Council president Matt Osterberg, who attended the session, said the council will have no comment before that time.