From these Village Board minutes from October 2005, it would appear that the ARC replaced the "Building Board" at that time. If I recall correctly, that was around the time that there had been a couple of home demolitions and rebuilds that made project neighbors unhappy.
So if I have this correct .. after a handful of neighbors took umbrage to the design and size of a few (and when I say few, I mean two) homes that were demolished and new, larger homes rebuilt, Whitefish Bay decided to create the ARC, which would forever forth scrutinize each and every homeowner project, so that no landowner may do as they please with their own property. Feel free to peruse the 17 pages of guidelines you are living under.
I can imagine that about 90% of Villagers vaguely remember the creation of the ARC, thinking, vaguely of course, that it sounded like a decent idea.
Don't want no ugly houses on my block, right?
I'm going to further guess that 90% of the Villagers who have had to present their plans on bended knee, to the ARC for permission, to improve their homes, have come away irritated with the bureaucratic process whereby their rights as homeowners have been supplanted by others.
Looking at meeting minutes from the ARC, it appears that they indeed scrutinize each project and their details. They debate whether the homeowner should be allowed a stone chimney, or one that's stucco. What kind of lights can be installed on garages. Whether to allow a hip roof or gable. Patio door? NO! French door, says ARC. The ARC tells you how many, and where you can put windows. Not so fast on putting in flood lights .. ARC wants those coach lights. Homeowners are not to be trusted to pick the color of their stonework, the ARC will do that for you. The ARC will review where you put your downspouts. Building a garage? Better have casings around your doors and windows. Oh, and the ARC will tell you how to center them. And the roof pitch must meet ARC approval.
My neighbors recently went through this process, to demolish their dilapidated garage and rebuild .. paying the $100 fee for ARC review .. having the village videotape the area, mailing all neighbors about the plans, inviting them to the ARC meeting.
Their plans passed muster, but not before a debate on the look of the garage window. If the home's window has muntins (crossbars) .. well then, that garage window (no one will ever see) also must have them. There was also a debate on the pitch of the garage roof, that it needed to match the higher pitch of the house roof. Guess what that does? Not to mention increase the cost, it makes the structure taller. As a neighbor, do I want to see a garage with a high roof, just so it matches the main home? Not a chance.
And last week, this story, where the ARC (and CDA) decided that the new restaurant, going in to the former Murray's Wine & Spirits, needed more and bigger windows!
"People don’t want to just look at blank walls,” Village Manager James Grassman said.
Unbelievable. That building has had "blank walls" for 60+ years.
Now Whitefish Bay has finally lucked into a restaurateur who wants to move in and the ARC decides the business owners' plans for 3 windows just won't cut it? GIVE ME A BREAK! The Village should be sucking up to these guys like no tomorrow, granting them everything they desire, making it as easy as possible for them to be successful. Or haven't they noticed one business leaves Silver Spring about every 10 minutes?
Now, I admit that it appears that 3/4ths of all ARC requests are approved without exception. But the libertarian in me is disturbed. The ARC should use the lightest touch possible. Homeowners should have superior rights, with plans being scrutinized only when extraordinary.
Whitefish Bay is an old community, and we have a wide variety of housing stock that dates from 50-100 years old. There are plenty of crappy houses in Whitefish Bay, just as there are plenty of historic, glorious ones. There is little value in making sure new downspouts are aesthetically optimized when 8 houses down, someone's 87 year old home has rotting siding and a crumbling driveway.
Homeowners should be given every encouragement to improve their homes (cough, which increases the tax base, cough) and should be given a very long leash to do so, with only the most egregious being vetoed.
Have an ARC experience? Write a comment below!
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