Breck contractor fined for removing historic materials
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE ” A Breckenridge contractor recently convicted of removing historic fabric from a home without the proper permit wants the town to reconsider how it handles historic preservation projects.
On Sept. 14, municipal Judge Buck Allen sentenced Randy Kilgore to 10 days in jail, which was waived, and ordered him to pay $1,000 for removing a portion of a home on French Street without receiving authorization from the town.
Kilgore, whom the town presented a Historic Preservation Award in 1998 for work on his High Street home, was the first person to be punished under a 2002 ordinance change that requires violations of the town code involving historic property to be considered a criminal instead of a civil offense.
In the past, those found guilty of destroying historic fabric were given fines of up to $10,000, but the town didn’t file charges.
The change stemmed from the town’s frustrations over several cases in the past five years in which builders removed and destroyed historic fabric without notifying the town, said Breckenridge communications manager Kim DiLallo.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
“The town takes its responsibility very seriously to preserve this community’s history, which is anchored by our historic structures,” DiLallo said.
Kilgore said he agrees that the town should punish those who purposefully remove historic fabric, but that wasn’t what happened in his case.
Kilgore began renovating longtime local Kate Brewer’s home on French Street in early May, 2004. The plans were to build a 418-square-foot addition, replace the kitchen using the footprint of the original cooking area and restore historic portions of the house.
Kilgore said he called Breckenridge town planner Mike Mosher several times over a period of three days to have him look at a section of the home before it was demolished ” not because he questioned whether part of the house was historic, but because Mosher had requested Kilgore call him once he got into the project.
He also visited town hall at 8 a.m. the day of the scheduled demolition, but Mosher was not available.
While Mosher attempted to return Kilgore’s calls, the two were unable to connect until one week after Kilgore began the project, when Mosher visited the site and “was shocked to see the entire rear historic structure missing,” according to his report on the visit.
Mosher red-tagged the project and work was stopped immediately.
The town filed misdemeanor charges against Kilgore for violating a section of the code that says permits are required for development. Judge Allen found Kilgore guilty in August. Kilgore’s lawyer filed an appeal to the decision late last week.
Kilgore said the renovation plans that were approved through the planning department said to preserve the home’s stone foundation, the shape and size of the original kitchen and openings, such as windows and doors ” all of which he saved.
He maintains that the historic requirements were never given to him in writing, and he was never told he had to call the community development department before demolishing the home.
“I really didn’t know that I needed to get further approval for what I was doing,” Kilgore said.
Town attorney Seth Murphy said a note on every page of the project’s plans instructed Kilgore not to remove any historic material without authorization, and that the destroyed materials were supposed to be reused throughout the renovation.
Kilgore and Brewer say that the portion of the home in question wasn’t historic.
According to the town’s design standards for the historic district, the period of significance in Breckenridge lasted from its settlement in 1860 to the last dredge boat mining operation in 1942.
Brewer said newspapers from 1947 came out of the destroyed portion of her home and that the kitchen roofline doesn’t match the rest of the 1800s house, indicating it was built at a later time. There’s no way to tell for certain if the portion he removed was historic, because it was taken to the landfill before that determination could be made.
Kilgore completed Brewer’s home last winter, and Brewer was given a certificate of occupancy last December. Both said the town’s system of dealing with renovations of historic structures is flawed.
Kilgore said he thinks the town should make sure a contractor has something in writing outlining historic requirements before the town issues a development permit. He also suggested the town’s historic preservation committee play a larger role in renovation projects.
Brewer said she believes the town should have a better documentation process, so there’s no question whether a home is historic or not.
The town acknowledges that the process needs adjustments.
“We need a bigger stick ” enforcement and penalties. We’ve lost a lot of fabric,” said town councilmember Eric Mamula in a February planning commission meeting.
One suggestion has been to follow a model used by Aspen that requires contractors to pay $40 for a short certification test before they’re allowed to work on historic projects. The commission sent a letter in April to 174 local builders and contractors in an attempt to gather feedback on the idea.
Historic preservation is on the list of priorities for the planning commission, but its schedule is also full with issues such as affordable housing and the arts district, DiLallo said.
“Right now the building industry, with all the business going on up here, is growing so fast, we’re just trying to keep up with the permits and plans that are coming in,” DiLallo said.
Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229, or at email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.
Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.
Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User