A surprise addition to a house under renovation in Cody’s downtown historical district prompted city decision-makers to ask the owner to rethink architectural plans.
City planning and zoning board members recently tabled action on whether an unapproved pergola built without a permit or P&Z approval should be removed or altered, or if the rustic-looking back patio cover of peeled log attached to a recently renovated house may remain as built, which in some opinions awkwardly distracts from an otherwise eye-appealing structure.
In July 2017, Mark Schneider bought property at 1502 Beck zoned for general business, which also allows residential uses.
His immediate plan was to live in the single-story house with the possibility of offering tax services from the premises later. The P&Z board first reviewed and approved a small addition to the south end of the house the following August. Building plans included metal roofing and siding.
When in June 2018 he returned with plans to add additions to the east and north sides of the house, P&Z members granted approval, deeming the design architecturally compatible to nearby buildings in the D-2 district.
Siding and roof materials would match the south addition built earlier.
The addition of a professionally-designed peeled-log pergola with slanted roof on the south addition was not included in either of the first two plans, nor did they include rustic knotty pine logs for front porch railings, posts and beams at the north entry. And the pergola lacked a building permit.
City planner Todd Stowell said he did not know about the pergola until Schneider’s neighbors approached him.
“They thought it did not have a nice appearance,” Stowell said on May 28 when the project was before the P&Z for a third time.
Several board members were also bothered by its appearance.
“There’s something jarring with the roofline,” P&Z member Richard Jones said.
In a written summary, Stowell said the pergola would likely look better if the east-west slope either matched the main building or sloped to the south, and if the logs were a darker color that blended better with the main building such as the metal railing approved in the original plan.
Jones said the board had liked the new, clean appearance of the house as proposed in the plan approved a year ago. He called the unauthorized revisions “dramatic.”
“It’s gone from a plain looking, modern, clean design to a cobbled look,” he said.
P&Z member Erynne Selk asked Schneider if it would be difficult to change the pergola.
“It was a surprise for us to see it go up,” she said.
Schneider said one purpose for the log pergola is to soften the steel covering the house.
“It wouldn’t be easy to change,” he said. “It was not easy to put up.”
Jumped the gun
Explaining the unauthorized change in plans, Schneider said the project had gone on for so long he “lost track.”
In a letter dated May 18 Schneider apologized for “jumping the gun” on the pergola, attributing the oversight to medical reasons, the project length and constant travel between offices and business interests in Estes Park, Colo., Lawrence, Kan., and Tucson, Ariz.
In the letter Schneider also said it was difficult to fit concepts of the downtown historical district into a residential area transitioning to commercial.
“Since the area was residential and is still heavily residential, it is difficult to envision what designs would be historically consistent since there really is no ‘history’ of business structures in this (mainly residential) area,” he wrote.
Eventually the house will be used as a short-term rental, and to further transition the property for commercial uses, Schneider said he plans to raze the remaining two structures and rebuild either vacation rentals or commercial offices.
“It’s a business location so we want (the buildings) to stand out,” he said, explaining the goal is a modern, edgy, functional yet western, rugged appearance.
“Something that makes people want to check us out,” he said.
The pergola slant roof is an attempt to emulate an equipment shed on the property built in 1916. Schneider said when it is torn down, the new building will have some resemblance of the former shed. He was not sure whether the natural-stained peeled logs would carry over to the expansion.
The board tabled action on a building permit for the pergola until Schneider returns with a revised plan that ideally includes the two future buildings.