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Posted May 3, 2011 | comments 10 Comments

Residents speak out against district rules

Vinyl siding, windows among concerns expressed at Strasburg joint meeting

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

STRASBURG -- The Town Council and Architectural Review Board were told off Monday night by residents who say they don't like being told what to do.

Numerous speakers expressed their disdain for the town's historic district guidelines during a public forum with the two panels.

The council revised the historic district ordinance in June 2009, requiring Architectural Review Board approval to remodel or build new structures in the historic district. However, the guidelines themselves have not yet been adopted.

Vinyl siding and windows were a major concern.

"When you tell people that they can't put siding on their house, you're putting a tremendous financial burden on those people," Diane Smith said. "I don't know why this council thinks they have the right to do that to people. You're putting too much government on us. Let us run our homes the way we want to run them."

Gary Orndorff said his daughter bought her house in August, and he was told by the town he had to stop putting siding on it when he was partially done.

"I would like to know, is there a fine if I continue to go with my siding," he said. "Is it a one-time fine? What's the fine? I will pay the fine."

Town Manager Judson Rex said there isn't a fine. When several people in the audience said some residents had put up vinyl siding since the ordinance had been adopted, Rex said those in the audience should inform him of it.

One woman yelled, "I'm not a tattletale."

"I take suggestions -- I don't like being ordered," Staton Strother said. "The only history I like to study is the history that shows me the mistakes made that I don't want repeated. George Washington could've slept there. I don't care. I sleep there now. History is just what it is, the past.

"If you want to do this thing and put regulations on me, then buy the property and I will move on."

Sue Williams compared the town to a dictatorship.

"Mr. Rex, I don't think you've been here long enough to tell anybody that you're familiar with the historic property in this town, because you haven't," she said. "I have, and I'm not going to listen to you tell me what to do with my property."

Councilman Justin Ritenour said he watched his parents pour money into repainting their home.

"I really apologize [for] where we are at this point now," he said. "You may not have everybody with you, but you know you at least have some folks up here that are rooting for you guys."

Councilman Richard A. Orndorff Jr. said he planned to offer a motion at the next Town Council meeting to start the process of repealing the historic district ordinance until guidelines have been approved.

"The main thing is we're not ripping this community apart because everyone is so angry and upset by what's happened," he said.

10 Comments | Leave a comment

    Meanwhile, visitors to town are welcomed by the Ramada stairway monstrosity. Maybe some of this energy would be better spent getting the owners of the property across from Food Lion and Rite Aid to clean up the eyesore they've created. Oh, I forgot. They don't feel like it.

    Who are the blue-bloods making the dubious claim Strasburg has a historical district? What history? Are concrete sidewalks and indoor plumbing to become the only modern concessions to historical preservation?

    There is absolutely nothing of such high historical interest anywhere in Strasburg that would cause me to go stand slack jawed in front of it, camera in hand, marveling at the wonder before me. To lure tourists, maybe somebody should build a very tall staircase tower high enough to see Russia from their house? Or a museum for fortune tellers?

    If strictly implemented, will Strasburg's historical district need some form of crowd control... riot training.... a Lenco Bearcat armored personnel carrier?


    Strasburg used to be the antique capital of Virginia.... Now its heading toward the communist capital of Virginia.... Great Job guys!!!!

    It really cracks me up to have some of the people mentioned in the article complaining about local government telling them what to do with their homes, when they support Obamacare, which tells you what you must do to your home in order to sell it...go figure. They love the Fed telling them what to do, but not their local council! Too funny!

    I am not spouting with this comment because I have a dog in this fight. I own my house on Washington St., pay my taxes and all the rest that the town requires. What the Council is asking with this program is just too much, too soon, with the staggering amount of requirements that most people cannot fulfill. In all, the program is a good guide for restoring historical buildings and I think that is what it should be, a guide. A guide to help a person who desires to restore his own property, not forcing everyone with laws and mandates. If a resident wants to use this program. More power to him. Do his house with these requirements and slap a historical sign on it. Suits me fine.
    The town cannot save every house in normal situations. If this program is used there will be a lot more lost because of the cost. It will, for sure, force older residents and retires out.
    I suggest that the council not move so fast. Maybe going back to the 2009 law wouldn't be a bad idea after all.

    Strasburg is a great place to live. As its residents we should all take pride in the appearance of our homes, lawns and community common space. I think the Town Council is filled with good intentions but is often misguided when it comes to implementation. Putting the cart before the horse comes to mind here. Rather than focusing on the type of siding one can or cannot install, perhaps attention should be directed at enforcing existing or establishing regulation about things such as being responsible for mowing one's lawn, ridding one's property of junk to the proportion where a porch is no longer visible under the mountain of mess, parking on one's front lawn, adhering to regulation about when trash should be set at the curb for pick up, and appropriate signage for businesses. While these things all seem to fall in the category of "common sense and courtesy" for most people, they simply don't for others. By careful and thoughtful enforcement of such minimal regulation, we may find a simple way to really make a substantive change in the appearance of our town for everyone's benefit.

    Kim, as much as you have to defend yourself on here against people trying to paint your views with a broad brush, your comments here kind of surprise me...

    This issue and the new healthcare law are apples and oranges and I don't see where we have anything that tells us that those who are for enforcing strict codes on a historic district in Strasburg also are champions of Obama's new healthcare bill....

    Very well said 91664, I couldn't agree with you more. No matter how historic the area is homes that are not kept up due to trash and junk in their yards bring the whole town down. Enforce the blight ordinances already passed first !

    Irishman, I happen to know some of the people personally in the article complaining about having the town tell them what to do with their property. It's not apples and oranges. The Healthcare law (that I know some of those in the article support) tells individuals what to do with their homes in order to sell them...what is the difference between that and the local government simply trying to implement rules on what you do with the aesthetics of your home. Why is it OK for the US Government to tell you what to do with your home and not OK for the local government? I can't help that I find the inconsistency humourous. JMO.

    You'll have to point me to the section of the Healthcare Law that "Tells people what to do to sell their house". There is a 3.8% tax on the sale of homes, but even then, a single person would have to be making over $200K a year and the first $250K in proceeds from the sale are not subject to the tax... The numbers are $250K with the first $500K being exempt for married couples. That's it. Really not so terrible.

    That has Zilch to do with historical districts attempting to tell people what they can and cannot do with regard to the aesthetics of their homes...

    Yes, apples and oranges.

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