Port council OKs downtown height exception

Vote clears the way for rooftop addition to Franklin Street building that already exceeds limit
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday approved a height exception that will allow a rooftop addition to be built to a downtown building.

The case is unusual because the building already exceeds the city’s 35-foot limit in the downtown district, but the structure, which was built in 1891, was grandfathered when the zoning code changed.

But now that the addition is being constructed, adding a third-floor studio to the building at 231 N. Franklin St., an exception to the height limit is needed.

In the downtown district, buildings can be 35 feet tall but owners may petition the city for a special exception for taller structures. 

Many downtown buildings exceed 35 feet and the building at 231 N. Franklin St., owned by Lisa Poole, is 48 feet at the top of its turret. The addition will be about 13-1/2 feet above the existing roof but about eight feet below the top of the turret. 

The addition, which will house a studio and bathroom that will augment a second-floor apartment Poole is renovating, will be set back about 15-1/2 feet from Franklin Street to minimize its appearance.

“Our goal is to keep the building as historic as we can,” architect Rory Palubiski of Fein Design said. “We’re doing our best not to compete with that (turret).”

The unanimous decision came after a public hearing in which only the neighboring property owner spoke, expressing concern about the fact the addition could allow someone to look through the skylight of his building.

John Paulus, 658 N. Holden St., said the tenant who rents the top-floor unit of his building at 229 N. Franklin St. is “very concerned people are going to look into his apartment.”

The tenant is also concerned about light pollution at night, Paulus added.

Palubiski said he does not believe that the light will be an issue, noting that there are plenty of other lights on in downtown at night, nor does he believe that the neighboring apartment will be very visible.

“If someone really wants to look into the skylight, maybe they could,” he said.

Ald. Mike Ehrlich suggested Palubiski talk to the neighbor “to help him feel more comfortable.”

Michael Opland, 215 N. Franklin St., said he believes the rooftop studio will be an asset to the downtown.

“I think it’s very well designed,” he said. “It fits well. I would give it a thumbs up.”

The building is a part of the downtown historic district on the National Register of Historic Places, but is not listed individually on the register.

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