By Patrick Yost
A nearly five month saga ended Monday night after the Madison City Council voted 3–2 to uphold the Madison Historic Preservation Commission’s ruling on a woman attempting to replace 16 window sashes on her Billups Street house.
Council members Joe DiLetto made a motion to uphold the HPC’s ruling against Lydia Norburg. Council Member Chris Hodges seconded DiLetto’s motion. When put to a vote, council members Bobby Crawford and Carrie Peters–Reid voted against the motion. The ruling was upheld when Madison Mayor Fred Perriman voted in favor of DiLetto’s motion, stating he was voting to “do the right thing for our city.”
Since May, Norburg has been before the HPC twice and the Madison City Council twice in attempt to resolve the issue.
“I have been made to feel like a second class citizen just to get my house repaired. This is not the town I remember growing up in,” she told the council Monday.
She said she had been “subjected to harsh and hostel behavior…” from both the HPC and city planner Ken Kocher. She also alleged, as she did at the August HPC meeting, that the commission had recently approved a similar window request from commission member Flynn Cleburne. “If that’s not abuse of discretion I don’t know what is,” she said.
Kocher, as he did in August, told the council that the requests from Norburg and Cleburne were “apple and oranges” and not similar in nature. He also said resolve in the issue has taken time because of the repeated appeals. “Everything that has occurred is because of the appeal,” he said. “There has not been a failure of the system here.”
Crawford said Norburg’s request was “an attempt to improve your house and make it more comfortable.”
Hodges said she understood Norburg’s “frustration” with the system and wondered if the applicant and the council could reach a compromise. “I see an opportunity that there’s some compromise here.”
DiLetto, for his part, defended the HPC and the system of appeals and hearings and warned against random repeals of HPC decisions. “If you tear that structure apart, you may as well not have an HPC.”
Following the ruling Norburg’s neighbor, James McManus, said the council owed Norburg an apology.
“Mrs. Norburg has been treated over a long period of time with profound disrespect. I believe that this council owes Mrs. Norburg an apology.”