Solar panels OK’d for Demming’s Aurora expansion


AURORA – At its June 18 meeting, the city’s landmark commission dealt with a topic it had never dealt with before – installation of solar panels at a structure in a historic district.

With Demming Financial Services Corp. moving ahead with a 2,500-square-foot addition at the 1,500-square-foot former Aurora train depot which it owns on New Hudson Road, the firm has plans to install solar panels.

As panel chairman Jeff Clark said, “This is something new for us to talk about.” But after Jamie Doyle of Better Together Solar in Cleveland outlined what the project would entail, the panel gave its blessing to the installation.

Assistant Planning-Zoning-Building Director Meredith Davis explained city officials have dealt only with two cases involving solar panels, and they are working on establishing guidelines to cover that type of energy technology.

Doyle said the Demming panels would be installed on the roof facing east, would not extend above the peak of the roof and would afford a “clean look.”

Landmark architectural adviser Ron Lowe said the panels wouldn’t be visible from most points on the ground near the property. “I don’t have any reservations,” he said, noting the installation would set a precedent for future solar panel projects.

The landmark panel favored the Demming expansion project in March 2019, and a final site plan was OK’d by the planning commission last June. The Demming firm has operated from the old train depot since the 1980s and needs additional space.

Meanwhile, the panel approved three other projects subject to submission of revised drawings.

They are a screened-in addition at Richard Bush’s 29 Maple Lane home, a barn addition at Ken Kessler’s 411 E. Garfield Road home and an 819-square-foot pole building at Matthew Zuelich’s 386 E. Garfield Road home.

The panelists OK’d an application form specific to the landmark commission after Davis informed them at a previous meeting that there currently is no such application form. Davis said the form, which also applies to signs, can be revised in the future if necessary.

Davis also pointed out work is continuing on establishing guidelines specific to the landmark commission. She noted the architectural board of review has its own residential guidelines, and the landmark panel’s guidelines could be patterned after those.

She said such a document could give landmark panelists something to fall back on when they feel a project is not appropriate. The document also could provide guidance to applicants, helping them understand what constitutes historic accuracy.

At a previous meeting, Clark said he did some research on other communities. For example, Olmsted Falls has a 78-page document for this purpose and Shaker Heights has a 100-page document. Lowe said Shaker Heights also has a small booklet containing colors, fence samples and basic information for guidance.

Clark added Nathan Bevil, community planning and preservation manager for the Ohio History Connection, is working on similar guidelines, and Aurora officials could look that over to see what might be salvaged for the local document.

At the landmark panel’s May 21 session, certificates of appropriateness were issued to demolish Aurora Eye Care’s monument sign at 20 S. Chillicothe Road and replace it with a new sign.

The new 75-by-44-inch sign will be constructed of high-density urethane, PVC, treated wood and aluminum. It will be double-sided with the address of the business on the edge facing the street. It will not be illuminated.

Certificates of appropriateness also were granted for a deck at Spence Zachem’s home at 343 E. Garfield Road, and a community monument sign on the Bicentennial Park gazebo grounds. Zachem’s deck will be 20 by 22 feet off the rear elevation of his home, and he said it is a better option than a patio because of landscape issues.

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