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Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC v. City of Arab and City of Arab Historic Preservation Commission

Alabama Court of Civil Appeals

July 14, 2017

Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC
v.
City of Arab and City of Arab Historic Preservation Commission

          Appeal from Marshall Circuit Court (CV-15-900004)

          ON APPLICATION FOR REHEARING

          MOORE, Judge.

         This court's opinion of May 5, 2017, is withdrawn, and the following is substituted therefor.

          Shoal Creek Land & Cattle, LLC ("Shoal Creek"), appeals from a judgment entered by the Marshall Circuit Court ("the circuit court") upholding a determination of the City of Arab Historic Preservation Commission ("the AHPC") denying an application by Shoal Creek for a certificate of appropriateness ("COA"). We reverse the judgment.

         Background

         In 2009, Shoal Creek purchased a building ("the building") in downtown Arab. In January 2014, the City of Arab established the City of Arab Downtown Historic District ("the historic district"), see City of Arab Ordinance No. 2014-4, which included the area in which the building is located. In October and November 2014, Shoal Creek replaced four of the second-floor windows of the building. The AHPC discovered the modifications and directed Shoal Creek to file an application for a COA. See Ala. Code 1975, § 11-68-9(a) ("No change in the exterior appearance of ... any building ... within an historic district may be made[] ... unless and until a certificate of appropriateness for such change ... is approved by the historic preservation commission created by the municipality designating the historic property or the historic district."). Shoal Creek filed the COA application, which the AHPC denied on November 25, 2014.[1]

         The AHPC meeting minutes from November 25, 2014, indicate that the AHPC denied the COA application on the ground that the replacement windows "do not meet the approved window guidelines." On November 26, 2014, the AHPC sent a letter to Shoal Creek explaining that the AHPC had denied the application for the COA for the following two reasons:

"1. The windows you selected were inappropriate in material choice and glazing pattern. Historic photos indicate that the original windows appeared to be double hung, wooden sash windows. The windows you selected were vinyl, vertical gliding windows.
"2. The work you undertook on the building was not in keeping with the general historic character of your building or the Downtown Arab Historic District of which it is a part ...."

         At trial, Michael Gullion, the chairperson of the AHPC, testified that the AHPC had denied the COA for the two reasons quoted above.

         Gullion specifically testified that the windows violated the window-design standards contained on page 21 of the AHPC's "General Design Guidelines, " which provide, in pertinent part:

"b. Standards for Rehabilitation and Alteration.
"The following standards shall be applied to all rehabilitation or alteration of contributing buildings and structures in the district.
"....
"8. Windows
"• Maintain the original number, location, size, and glazing pattern on primary building elevations,
"• Maintain historic window openings and proportions.
"... Inappropriate:
"... o Aluminum or vinyl" ...

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