Property owner ordered to apply to HDC for roof, porch repairs

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eureka Springs property owner Paul Minze has the right to repair the roof and porch of his home, but only if he submits an application to the Historic District Commission, Carroll County Circuit Judge Scott Jackson ruled at the conclusion of a pre-trial hearing Tuesday.

Minze’s attorney, Tim Parker, said Minze didn’t apply to the HDC to replace the roof because he believed a stop work order issued two years ago wouldn’t allow him to.

Minze filed a lawsuit against the city of Eureka Springs on Feb. 10, 2016, after the Historic District Commission issued the stop work order earlier that month. Minze received a certificate of appropriateness from the commission on Jan. 21, 2015, to repair the porch, windows, siding, decks and doors.

City building inspector Bobby Ray said Tuesday the stop work order was issued because Minze allegedly improperly repaired a window and began working on interior renovations without a permit. When he spoke with Minze, Ray said, Minze confused the certificate of appropriateness with a building permit.

“He made several references to him already having a permit or approval from the HDC,” Ray said.

Since the stop work order was issued and the lawsuit was filed, city attorney Tim Weaver said Minze asked to continue repairs on the interior of his home. City officials allowed him to do that, Weaver said, even though they didn’t have to.

“The city had no problem with that, except for the fact that at that point, Mr. Minze let his lawsuit sit for over a year before he decided he wanted something else done,” Weaver said. “Then he files a motion without formally asking to do what he’s asking to do today.”

Minze sent two contractors to speak with city preservation officer Glenna Booth about the work, Parker said, and Booth turned them down. Contractors Dennis Alexander and Eli Bates said Booth didn’t approve or deny the request because of the stop work order. Booth said that’s not exactly how it happened.

“I told them I probably could not approve it because of the stop work order, but I didn’t receive an application to pass on to the commission,” Booth said.

Booth said the roof repair would fall under administrative approvals, which would automatically be placed on the HDC’s agenda so long as the work is appropriate. She can’t put any work on the agenda, Booth said, without an application. Ray agreed with that.

“Even with administrative approval, there’s still an application,” Ray said. “The application was never made.”

Weaver asked Minze why he didn’t submit an application for the work, and Minze said it’s because of the stop work order. The roof is in dire need of repair, Minze said.

“Why would you, if you really, truly believe the roof is about to bring itself down, go through the trouble of putting all these improvements in the house if the roof is simply going to open up and ruin all your improvements?” Weaver asked.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I like living in luxury,” Minze said. “I am not going to live in a dump. The inside will be luxury.”

In the last few months, Minze said, the porch has begun separating from the house.

“That is the reason now that I am in court,” Minze said. “I want to get this repaired. Now is the time to get this repaired.”

Jackson said Minze has the right to improve his property, but the city has the right to review the work he wants to do.

“There’s an easy fix, and that’s for him to re-apply and for the city to review the application and announce their findings,” Jackson said.

Jackson ordered Minze to apply to the HDC for the roof and porch repairs, saying the stop work order doesn’t apply to new work. The order is still in place for the work Minze applied for in 2015, Jackson said.

The case is scheduled to go to trial at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the courtroom of the Carroll County Western District Courthouse in Eureka Springs.

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