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Developer Told to 'Get His House in Order'

Chris Montanaro chose to withdrew his application before the Historic District Commission (HDC) when it was revealed he lacked approval from the courts to pursue his intended design plan. The commission refused to issue a conditional certificate of appropriateness for 5C Gorham Avenue based on Montanaro's history in the neighborhood. His options were withdraw or denial.

“In the stipulated judgment there were three designs approved,” said HDC Chairwoman Margaret Feczko. “He wanted a fourth design.”

A certificate of appropriateness is required to pursue a building permit within a historic district. Montanaro's company, Redcoat Development LLC, plans to build as many as five homes. Montanaro received a conditional permit for one house based on the promise of an amendment to a stipulated judgement against his development plans. A building permit was subsequently issued and the house is nearing completion. Attorney Michael Bologna, representing the plaintiffs against Montanaro in the stipulated judgment, submitted a letter to the commission stressing that Montanaro has yet to obtain the amended judgment to allow for that first home.

“Yes we made a mistake,” Feczko said to Montanaro. “We made a mistake in giving you a conditional certificate of appropriateness.”

Montanaro holds that he followed the judgment and the conditional certificate to the best of his ability.

Montanaro said, “I went to them with what I have and was issued a building permit. I am not trying to get around the process.”

Bologna's recommended on March 18 that the amended judgment allow for the design Montanaro was presenting. However Montanaro delivered the filing fee on April 12. The court could not consider the motion to amend the judgment before the April 13 meeting.

Montanaro said he didn't think the HDC meeting was an “appropriate forum to get into legal matters.”

Neighbors of Montanaro's development spoke against his application.

Ann Chernow called him a “child who is not learning.” She resented that he seemed to be skirting the rules and regulations.

Nancy Stewart said he should thank the commission for their patience with him.

Feczko said she would love to see him submit a conforming design. She said the fourth design isn't bad but without an amended judgment the commission's hands are tied. She also isn't about to make the same mistake twice and issue a conditional certificate.

Faced with the probability of a denial, Montanaro opted to withdraw his application. Feczko encouraged him to submit an approved design or resubmit his application if and when the judgment is amended. Neighbors have their own ideas on what Montanaro should do.

“He should get his house in order,” Stewart said.

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