Fauchere still venting

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:10

MILFORD - A duel between aesthetics and economics continued in Borough Hall Monday night. But there were the beginnings of a negotiation as the developers of the Fauchere Hotel project came before the Milford Architectural Review Board for a second effort to avoid rebuilding an expensive vent for the hotel’s basement kitchen. The original design for an underground rear vent was changed without the board’s approval or review during construction. Chair Beth Kelley says she won’t okay any plan that leaves the existing duct work and six-foot-high fan housing projecting visbly into the historic hotel’s sideyard. Last month, Kelley scalded project historic consultant Tom Brannon, a former member of the review board, for allowing the work to be done without the board’s review. Brannon has admitted that he incorrectly recalled the review requirments. She ordered the designer to come before the board. The Fauchere contingent Monday included Brannon, an electrical engineer, the project manager, the hotel manager, both owners, Richard Snyder and Sean Strub, and project attorney Jan Lokuta. Lokuta got involved early on, interrupting and challenging Kelley as she interrogated Brannon about Brannon’s past service on the board and interpretations of borough ordinances. When Kelley questioned the grease and smell the vent would emit, Lakuta injected that the ordinance gives board no jurisdiction over smell and safety. That prompted Borough Solicitor John Klemeyer to respond, “Nor does it give you the authority to interrupt the chair.” “When something is wrong it is encumbent on us all to correct it,” Lakuta shot back. Klemeyer conceded the point, but later added that while the board does not have a direct say, issues like grease and noise are often operational concerns to applicants “They don’t strictly have jurisdiction, be they are often discussed.” Brannon continued, providing renderings of a favored landscaping option that would hide the vent and schematics of eight other optional designs with costs ranging from $18,000 to $45,000. But Klemeyer noted that ordinance does not provide oversight of landscape plantings, so there is no way to assure that landscaping will be maintained. Engineer Mike Lemenille reviewed them for the council and recommended two that would take ducts vertically against the porch and vent over the porch roof. Strub argued that installing the vent in immediate line of sight for several of the rooms would permanently diminish their value. He further said that placing the vent against the skyline was mistake, saying the owners could do things with landscaping, but, “if you put it on the roof, it’s there forever. There’s no way to disguise it.” Board Vice-Chairman Kevin Stroyan looked for a compromise. He said the problem lay in the applicant’s desire to use landscaping and the board’s legal inability to consider landscaping. Stroyan suggested an agreement by the Fauchere signing over the right to maintain landscaping. Strub said later that an agreement such as Stroyan suggested was agreeable, but no decisions were made in what was still a preliminary meeting. Zoning Officer Duane Kuhn said the Fauchere still needs to file a formal application with the board and they can’t do that until the zoning issue created by extending the ductwork and fan beyond the building footprint is resolved. “They’ve argued that they don’t have a zoning issue, but they do,” he said.