Home Improvements Open Doors To Histronics

June 02, 1991|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Staff writer

UNIONTOWN — A door is coming between two county agencies.

Mary M. Grayson is trying to show it's not an open and shut case.

Armed with old photos and historical documents, Grayson invited County Commissioners to tour the town with members of the Uniontown Historic Commission Thursday to make her point.

Grayson's daughter, Letty, 45, made changes two years ago to her 130-year-old home in thehistoric district along Uniontown Road. The Historic Commission wanted Letty to retain a door. Letty wanted it gone. The Board of Zoning Appeals ruled that Letty could remove the door, and the controversy simmers.

Grayson, 73 and serving as her daughter's spokeswoman, pointed to several changes to exteriors of other homes in the 200-year-old town. Grayson described several approved renovations, including the removal of porches, changed windows and rooflines, as the

commissioners walked up and down Uniontown Road.

"The owners of the homeright next door removed the entire third floor with the commission'sapproval," said Grayson. "Letty discarded a 50-year-old door from the side of her house while remodeling. It was nothing but a couple of boards on an old shed."

Not true, said members of the Historic Commission, established about 10 years ago to help maintain architectural authenticity. The commission reviews all external changes to buildings in the Uniontown historic district.

In July 1989, Grayson began remodeling the home's rear section, built at the turn of the century to accommodate a feed store business. The four-member commission gave its OK to the renovations, but stipulated the original feed door must stay.

The commission said the door on the west side of the house was part of the facade of the Uniontown Road residence. Although the door was not functional, the commission said, it was necessary to maintain that facade.

"The addition was already under roof and thetar paper up before we gave our approval," said Carol Wildesen, commission member. "The door was still in place, though, and we ruled against removing it."

Several other residents have maintained similarexterior doors, she added, often drywalling over them inside the houses.

Grayson said her daughter objected and removed the door despite the ruling, saying it didn't conform to her plans. She said that her daughter's "minor" alter

ation started a two-year battle that is "a waste of taxpayers' money."

Grayson appealed the ruling to the Board of Zoning Appeals, who found in her favor. The historic commission, represented by John C. Murphy, a private attorney hired by thecounty, is appealing that decision in Carroll County Circuit Court.

"This is the first time in nearly 20 years we have ever had a problem," said Wildesen.

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said anexpensive, non-existent door shouldn't cause such problems.

"All this controversy over a door, when the next-door neighbor removed an entire third story, doesn't make sense," said Dell.

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