Man burned by chimney matter

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2005

The chimney may be down.

But that didn’t keep downtown property owner Curtis Mehalko from feeling the heat Thursday when the Historic Landmarks Comm-ission criticized his decision to remove two chimneys on a house at 430 N. Main St. without the

board’s approval.

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Mehalko was seeking an &uot;after-the-fact approval&uot; for that portion of the renovation.

Although the HLC gave the green light for parts of the renovation in 2002, Mehalko proceeded to take down two chimneys, one in the front of the home and visible from the street, and one in the rear; and alter two windows on the back of the property.

None of these actions were approved by the HLC.

The HLC unanimously denied Mehalko’s request and ordered him rebuild the historically significant front chimney. Mehalko is to bring his plans for replacing the chimney before commissioners before any construction takes place.

The rear chimney – which was not visible from the street –

was already leaning when repair work on the roof was being done following the 2002 plan’s approval, Mehalko said.

The rear chimney completely collapsed during work on the roof.

The front chimney is still inside the house, Mehalko said.

&uot;It’s full of concrete, it had fallen below the roof line.&uot;

The front chimney became the main source of contention, mainly because it can be seen from the street.

&uot;That, to me, is an important architectural element,&uot; said Commissioner Barbara McPhail. &uot;That’s the main thing I feel strongly about.

&uot;If something like that happens in the middle of a job, it seems the logical thing would have been to come back to the commission and tell us what happened.&uot;

Approving Mehalko’s &uot;after-the-fact&uot; request would set a poor example, said Commissioner Floyd Gary.

&uot;If we allow this type of thing to happen,&uot; said Gary, &uot;we

are setting a precedent for it to happen again.&uot;

Also, the commission unanimously approved:

-Renovations to vacant 2 1/2-story house at 129 Clay Street, owned by Paul J. Stone and Gary R. Stone.

Planned renovations and additions the house, built between 1895 and 1910, include window repairs and a new side door.

-Replacing a wooden fence, circa 1920, build around the former Sheffield Mansion at 104 S. Broad St. Owners Mickey and Denise Boyette asked to rebuild the fence that was damaged from age and Hurricane Isabel.