Village board denies Lancaster Presbyterian Church's appeal
The issue came before the village board after an appeal was filed by Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Lancaster Presbyterian Church, William Stortz. It was up to the village board to decide whether the commission made the appropriate judgment on the spindles.
Stortz explained that when they went to scarp and paint the front of the church, which is located in the village’s historical district, and the two sides, they found that the spindles were made out of plastic and they just fell apart in their hands.
“The Lancaster Presbyterian Church wants to be a good neighbor and that’s why we took this project on in the summer of 2011 because the church needed painting,” remarked Stortz. “We didn’t expect for the spindles to come apart.”
The church spent $15,000 on the restoration, which included repairing two roofs on the upper steeples.
“I think Lancaster and the historic preservation group agree, we agree, that this is a historic building and we want to maintain it,” said Stortz. “But what we disagree on is the significances of the spindles.”
Stortz said that whether the spindles were included in the buildings original structure has yet to be determined but he is convinced they are not, considering that the spindles have always looked odd and out of place to him. The other trim elements on the building are sawed trim work and grooved trim work.
However, the historic commission disagrees.
In the early 1970’s the church did have wooden spindles, but because they were decomposing they were removed. This is when the plastic replicas were made and placed on the building, according to church officials.
Stortz continued to say that he did not attend the initial historic commission hearing and believes the commission was not presented with any cost information when they denied it.
“The denial indicated that cost is not a reason for consideration. Let’s be reasonable. Cost has to be a consideration for everybody at some point in the line. That’s unrealistic in today’s society,” commented Stortz.
Stortz commented he was provided with the price of $4,200, which includes the cost to prefabricate and install the spindles, but it was also a cost estimate he received about a year ago.
“When it comes to cost we are not a rich church,” remarked Stortz. “Many weeks we don’t have enough income, which is the Sunday morning offering, to make payroll for the week. Usually we break even or slightly above, but not always a guarantee.”
Comments from members of the historic commission lacked as Chairman of the Lancaster Historic Preservation Commission Chairman Michael Meyer was unable to attend the meeting. However, there were two commission members present, but they did not provide any substantial comments on this matter due to their recent appointments onto the commission.
Village of Lancaster Mayor William G. Cansdale Jr. raised many questions throughout the discussion including why the congregation at the time thought it was important to replace the wooden spindles with plastic ones and are the spindles in fact significant to the building?
“I find the situation frustrating,” remarked Cansdale. “This is relatively a minor affair between the needs of the church and the needs of the historic board. I really prefer to see these things worked out at the historic board hearing without it being black or white. I think the village board is being put in a difficult position to make a decision on this matter.”
When it came time to vote, the village board unanimously up held the commission’s decision. The board did suggest to Stortz that he take the matter back to the historic commission so they can be presented with the information Stortz’s believes they did not heard the first time.
Cansdale said if the church chooses to go back in front of the commission he would like to attend the hearing and he also stressed that more research needs to be done, but overall he “hopes this can be resolved at the historic board.”
If required to do so, Stortz commented that the church would have the spindles installed, but he mentioned that the church will be asking to appear in front of the historic commission again.
The next Village of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 25, in the Municipal Building Council Chambers, 5423 Broadway, Lancaster.