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Historic Preservation - Grammar Error Meant Town's Window Modification Denial Was Improper

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Both a town historic commission and an Alabama trial court misinterpreted the phrase "contributing buildings and structures" when they determined that window-design standards applied to contributing buildings and all structures---rather than "contributing buildings and contributing structures."

Facts: Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC owns a building in the City of Arab’s downtown historic district. Before the exterior of any building in the historic district can be changed, the Arab Historic Preservation Commission must approve a certificate of appropriateness for the change. Shoal Creek replaced four windows without first seeking a certificate of appropriateness. After the historic commission discovered the new windows, it told Shoal Creek to apply for a certificate of appropriateness. Shoal Creek complied, and the historic commission denied the application because the replacement windows didn’t meet the "approved window guidelines." (The commission did not deny the application for its tardiness.)

Specifically, the historic commission pointed to page 21 of its "General Design Guidelines," [...]

 
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