Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 2, 2018

TN Appeals Court Upholds Conditions Imposed on Granted Renovation Permit in Historic Preservation District

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

MJM Real Estate Investments, LLC sought to renovate its property located within the Broadway Historic Preservation District. In this District, the Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission has jurisdiction to insure the ongoing preservation of structures of historic value. Additionally, the Commission must approve any changes made to the building through a permitting process. MJM filed an application with the Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission to obtain a permit to renovate a 1935 industrial building in the Broadway Historic Preservation District in downtown Nashville. On March 16, the Commission partially approved the application, but required modifications before a permit would be issued. Specifically, the Commission denied the request to install vertically operable windows because they were not consistent with the style of the original 1935 windows. The Commission also required the construction of a parapet wall around the fifth story rooftop deck to hide the building’s rooftop additions because the additions were not compliant with the design guidelines for the district. The chancery court affirmed the Commission’s decision.

At the outset, the court determined that the Commission’s failure to issue a permit within thirty days of the March 16 meeting did not constitute an implied approval of Petitioner’s application as initially presented. The record reflected that the minutes from the March 16 meeting and the subsequent communications and demonstrated that the permitting process was delayed because the Commission required additional data and revised plans before a decision could be made. Moreover, the record revealed that the Commission and Petitioner mutually agreed to the delay.

Petitioner next contended that the trial court erred by affirming the Commission’s decision to deny vertically operable windows and to require Petitioner to replace a railing with a parapet wall. The Design Guidelines provide that “if replacement windows or window surrounds are necessary, replacements should replicate originals. If original windows do not exist, replacements should be appropriate for the building’s style and period.” As such, the trial court correctly determined that the replacement windows must be compatible with the historical character of the building and the historical nature of the District.

Petitioner next argued that the Design Guidelines permit railings on rooftop additions and do not require parapet walls to hide them. While the court agreed with Petitioner’s assertion, the evidence demonstrated that parapet walls were a common architectural feature in the District. As such the trial court properly affirmed the Commission’s decision, based on its finding that the parapet wall would be more in keeping with the style of the original 1935 building and would harmonize the building with the rest of the District.

MJM Real Estate Investments, LLC v Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, 2018 WL 1560650 (TN App. 3/29/2018)


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