Aubrey and The Win

I guess I should weigh in on the Aubrey Hicks situation, as I have been to many a meeting where the ARB is brought up with contempt.

Congrats to Mr. Hicks and his family, as they now can get on with the business of living in their house leak-free.

I know there are at least 3 other families in the area covered by the ARB awaiting the certificate. And waiting. And waiting.

To anyone who watched, or heard about the City Council meeting the other night (as I watched) - the travesty of the woman from Old SW who installed replacement windows that were 1/10th of an inch too small for the old window frame, which went on for a ludicrous amount of time with no real outcome, only served to highlight the failure of the ARB.

The ARB should be limited in it's powers to approving, and providing guidance to homeowners in the Historic Districts. It should not be empowered to bring charges against the homeowners, nor bully people into making changes they cannot afford. One of the reasons we specifically chose Southeast was that it was NOT under the control of the ARB.

Even though we have a myriad of styles, of home ages, designs - people tend to appreciate what they have, and take pride in the quirks and designs of the homes they own.

That's the key right there though - they own. Renters cannot be expected to care, because in a good majority of cases - the landlord does not care. But that is off point.

Back to Mr. Hicks and the ARB. One of my favorite sections of the story is as follows:

"Architectural Review Board member Don Harwood said the ruling created a "dark day" for the board. It sends a signal to other homeowners that they can do the same thing Hicks did and get by with a slap on the wrist, he said.

He disagreed with the judge's conclusions about why Hicks' certificate was denied, saying the case put the board between a rock and a hard place. Hicks had ample time to come to the board about problems with his roof before he started taking it down, but didn't.

"We have no proof that it was in such bad shape," Harwood said.

The board ruled based on the question of whether the change Hicks was making to the roof would have passed, Harwood said. Had Hicks come to the board, he could have been pointed to possible cheaper alternatives such as repainting the roof, he said. "It's sad that it got to this situation." (rt 08/22/07)

Harwood states they had no proof the roof was in bad shape. Excuse me? You need no proof. It is not up to you to determine the livability of a dwelling you do not own nor live in. It is the homeowner. If my wife decided that she no longer liked the shingle look - and wanted something different - and we had the available money, I see no reason why someone else should tell me that the property I purchased I have no say in. They do not have the right to impose that kind of control.

Now - as to offering suggestions, assistance with choosing materials, or yes - even restricting paint colors (believe me, no one wants to live next to a circus tent) and perhaps speeding up the process by becoming more user friendly - that is the role of an ARB.

Roanoke cannot afford a NYC-styled ARB. We struggle to hold onto the citizens we do have, and yet here we are giving them incentives to leave.

Commercial properties in Historic Districts are quite another issue. They do need to maintain a unified look and style - consistent with the area. Most homeowners are not going to start slapping up awnings, redolent with advertisements on their homes. Commercial properties? It happens frequently.

Perhaps if the ARB went and did some digging, maybe gathered a few historic photos of each house they can, and compare that with the current version of the home - then they might be able to make a case for a 1/10th inch differential being bad, or a shingle roof replacing a tin roof undesirable.

They say that they have no evidence of the roof being bad, show me evidence of it being good.

Oh - and repainting a roof (unless done with tar, or a rubber sealant) will not stop leaks or cracks from developing in a durable, but breakable metal roof. The only roof that has a 1000 year promise is copper. Once the patina sets on it, it is nearly indestructible. Tin has a maximum life of 125 years before replacement becomes the only option.

But you folks go on and paint your roof like the ARB says. That should work well.

Anyway - once again. Southeast is older, more historic, and has no ARB to answer to. All we ask is that you keep the circus tent to a minimum.


As the walls decompose

Another day, another City Council meeting. (go here to watch it live, just click on the city logo on the right)

No small meetings today either. Aside from the change-up taking the Countryside debate to the 2pm meeting, when most of the Countryside advocates had previously signed up for the 7pm one - the city will be tackling the rezoning request of the Rescue Mission.

Anything beyond that is an unknown as of right now - the agenda is set, but porous it seems.

Well, with the exception of the signing of a year-to-year contract with EventZone that is. Wonder what the plans are for that.

The general consensus around town is that the city council is gearing up for another round of "Slam the Citizens" with things that are of no benefit to the average citizen, and create no growth.

Like the new $6 daily parking rate at certain street-level lots. Cancellation of certain monthly parking agreements. Things like that.

This edition of the Roanoke City Council seems to be firmly entrenched in it's own collective ass, as it does not hear the citizens. Well, quite frankly it does not seem to hear anyone, least of all the high paid planners it hires to investigate ideas.

Instead of asking a architectural firm, or a building firm where to put an amphitheater - why not ask a marketing firm? You can build it, but you still have to sell it to performing acts and the crowds that will attend alike. And sure, you can have trolley-style people-movers running every 10 minutes up and down Jefferson to the very spot, but to what end? People who work and attend med school in that area will still have to travel to the pick-up point. It has been stated that running down MacClanahan would add too much time to the trip, but if you have businesses and people willing to use the service - well, can anyone say LeDuh?

We all know the City has brain drain problems, but did you realize it affects those serving it?

The city council, the mayor, and the city manager all need to come out and explain EXACTLY and EXPLICITLY what their plans for the city are. Not this "go see our vision statement and go away" crap.

The City Council is not acting in the best interests of Roanoke at any time. They fail. Plain and simple.


And thanks to the brilliant leadership we have suffered under for many years - now we can see the tangible effects: the walls of the city are beginning to decompose. From the lowest man on the rung, to the people who pay the City salaries - not many are happy about how things are being run.

Even the Roanoke Times is beginning to fumble hard.

The gossip is flying a mile a minute around here about what really is going on. Even Hometown Bank is the subject of major talk.

The only way to quell all the unrest in the city is to come clean, and do your damn job. Tell the citizens whats going on, and listen to them when they tell you something.

Optionally, continue on the way you are going - and act really surprised when your ass gets tossed out at the end of your term. And let the city decay even further.

We have some whip-smart people here in Roanoke, listen to them. Now get back to work.