Construction work on the Champion House, a 1922 one-story wood frame Craftsman bungalow in the North College Historic District, has run afoul of the city’s historic district review process, according to a Planning Department memo sent to the city manager.

Workers removed all of the siding from the house, located at 422 N. College St., essentially “gutting … the structure to the studs,” according to the memo to City Manager Jim Buston from Principal Planner Thomas Weintraut, who serves as the Planning Department representative on the Historic Preservation Commission.

Removing the siding is considered Major Work under the Historic Preservation Commission’s Design Review Standards and requires review by the commission and the issuance of a Certificate of Appropriateness. 

The concern is that there is nothing of historical value left of the original structure and that the Champion House could become a non-contributing structure in the historic district.

The owners of the Champion House, David and Susie Pearson, were represented by Dan Bennett, the couple’s architect and a member of the city’s Downtown Design Review Committee, at the June meeting of the HPC. The commission issued a Certificate of Appropriateness for the removal of the mid-20th century rear addition and the construction of a new rear addition with a three-car garage, as well as minor work to the foundation and front yard.

“Neither Mr. Pearson nor Mr. Bennett mentioned the removal or replacement of any exterior siding beyond what was damaged, most notably, all the exterior siding,” Weintraut wrote in the memo, which further states that a permit from the city’s Inspection Services Department is required to repair or replace siding valued at an amount greater than $100. The owners failed to get the appropriate permits to remove the siding.

“The only comment that I want to make is that we have every intention of complying with every rule that we’re told to comply with,” said David Pearson. “We have no intention of breaking any rules or doing anything at that house that is not approved.“

Pearson recommended reaching out to Bennett to get more information. The Villager reached out but did not receive an immediate response. 

The homeowners also did not seek or get the commission’s approval for extensive work to the property’s landscape, which included the removal of multiple large trees. The city’s Design Review Guidelines states that “any alteration/addition/removal of gardens, planting beds, or shrubbery affecting an area greater than 50 percent of the front yard area from the house face is classified as Major Work,” according to the memo.

The city has asked that construction work on the property be suspended until the Historic Preservation Commission meets and discusses the issue at its meeting in November. No official Stop Work Order has yet been issued, as the city weighs what response it will take.

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