"I thought it would be a great structure for the downtown area," said Huerta.
According to the minutes from the Cleveland Heritage Commission meeting, where he brought his proposal on Dec. 10, the structure would consist of an exposed steel frame with a metal roof and short iron and brick fence along the edges.
Huerta explained to the heritage commission this was to be considered a Phase I addition with hopes of enclosing the space at a later date similar to a previously approved design if building codes would allow this without a sprinkler system.
The commission consulted the "Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation" and the "Crosstie Historic District Guidelines,” finding that any new work should be compatible with the historic materials, features, size, scale and proportion and massing to protect the integrity of the property and its environment, additions should remain secondary to the principle building, and new buildings should utilize traditional building materials.
According to these guidelines this new addition would sacrifice the integrity of the building.
The heritage commission decided that the proposal was not appropriate for the Crosstie Historic District and denied the request.
Huerta then appeared before Cleveland Planning Commission to appeal the decision made by the heritage commission.
According to the minutes from the planning commission meeting on Dec. 19, Huerta presented examples of other properties located in the Crosstie Historic District that contained exposed metal and siding or steel structures and said that if approved his future plans for the addition would include trying to enclose it with brick and a second floor balcony area if the requirement for fire sprinklers could be waived.
Brett Moorman, director of community development, explained that each building or structure is considered on it's own merit with the materials, architecture, and scale of that particular building.
Huerta said Cleveland would need to be more diverse in its interpretation of building standards in the future to accommodate differing building styles in order to attract new tourism and businesses.
The planning commission, acting as the board of appeals, denied Huerta despite its support of expanding local business on the grounds that the heritage commission's decision was "valid and based on adopted standards originating from the 'Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation" and from the 'Crosstie Historic District Guidelines.'"
Appearing before the Cleveland Board of Aldermen was Huerta’s next step a third appeal.
Moorman told board members that heritage and planning couldn't approve because it doesn't follow the guidelines.
After hearing about the different appeals, Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said, "There's got to be some sort of compromise."
The board discussed with Huerta the possibilities of making the structure from the same materials as the original building, however that would be a costly endeavor.
If the building was enclosed and made of brick, a sprinkler would be necessary.
If bricking the columns was done every steel beam would have to be covered in brick.
"Nothing against individuals because they are going by their guidelines but I think it's time to change the guidelines and let the younger generation show their personality in some of these buildings and that's part of it," said Huerta.
Alderman Gary Gainspoletti motioned to accept the change under the assumption they can rectify any legal issues with the heritage commission.
Alderman Maurice Smith asked "Where does this put the heritage board we have in place? Other things are going to come before this board that are similar."
Huerta said it's important to look at these project-by-project and said, "Change is good and you have to go project by project. I'm not knocking anyone but what are the guidelines for having someone on heritage? Why isn't there a developer on heritage or a realtor on heritage?"
"We have those boards in place for a purpose and I don't want to have the board feel like what's the use. We have to reevaluate," said Alderman Robert Sanders.
Alderman Danny Abraham asked, "Say Raymond wants to put a roof over the alley. Will he have to come back to us or once that door has been opened is it open for every situation.”
Moorman said each situation would be unique and also said he did not believe this would affect any potential grants from the heritage commission but wasn't certain.
Gainspoletti restated his previous motion to pursue this as long as the heritage guidelines weren't messed up and the motion was carried and approved and Nowell said the board would get back with Huerta and discuss moving forward with the project.