Aurora City Council overturns architectural review board, says metal roof on house is OK

By Ken Lahmers
Aurora, Ohio

AURORA – A New Hudson Drive family will be allowed to continue to install a metal roof on its house after City Council overturned an architectural board of review decision which denied that alteration.

After resident Ron Wolford, whose family is new to the city, appealed the ABR’s decision, City Council overturned the board’s denial by an 8-1 vote, with Councilman John Kudley as the lone opponent.

Wolford told council at it's May 10 meeting that although a metal roof is more expensive than asphalt shingles, it lasts much longer, is better insulated and is recyclable. He said all neighbors that he’s talked to are receptive to the metal roof installation.

However, ABR guidelines generally do not permit metal roofs, and thus ABR members opposed the project.

But Councilman Scott Wolf said a couple of ABR members told him they felt constrained by the guidelines and urged Wolford to appeal to council. “I think the city needs to revisit those guidelines,” Wolf said.

Wolf and several other council reps praised Wolford for making an investment in the neighborhood by upgrading an existing house, and they liked the look of the new roof and did not believe it would damage the neighborhood’s character.

Councilwoman Kathi Grandillo said she does not like to overturn a decision by another city board, but felt the metal roof “is definitely an upgrade.” She added she was disappointed Wolford’s contractor did not check with the building department before starting the project.

“I believe it is a unique look and would blend in well with the neighborhood,” added Councilman Harold Hatridge, who encouraged the ABR and council to revisit the guidelines for metal roofs and solar panels.

Some council reps also pointed out that Demming Financial’s addition to the former railroad depot on New Hudson Drive has a metal roof, so the look is not unfamiliar to the neighborhood.

But Kudley expressed several concerns, including that the contractor was not licensed in Aurora and didn’t know a building permit was needed for the project. “We have stringent codes here that should be followed,” he said.

Kudley pointed out the current standards were approved by the ABR and council in 2017 and 2018. “I’m not opposed to metal roofs, but believe an option would have been a shingle roof that looks like shingles rather than flat panels,” he said.

By overturning the ABR’s decision, Kudley said council could be setting a precedent. And he added, “We could go back and review our standards, but there’s no guarantee they’re going to change.”

Kudley explained the metal roof on Demming Financial’s addition was approved by city boards after intense scrutiny by the landmark commission and historical society.

“Those groups spent a lot of time evaluating that project,” he said. “The roof was meant to replicate the look of a barn on that property back in the 1800s. So Demming’s roof is not out of place from a historical standpoint and should not be a part of Council’s consideration in this appeal.”

Council President George Horvat advised Wolford to check with the building department to make sure any future work on the house is allowed under city codes.

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