The Lower Columbia Preservation Society has intervened in a lawsuit against Astoria by a family wanting to replace historic wooden windows with composite materials.
Thomas and Priscilla Levy want to replace 19 windows in their historic home on Grand Avenue with Fibrex, a composite of reclaimed wood fiber and thermoplastic polymer. The Historic Landmarks Commission approved the replacement, but the preservation society appealed.
State law requires the city to decide on land use applications within 120 days. The deadline expired before the City Council could rule on whether to uphold the approval of the window replacement over the preservation society’s appeal.
The Levys filed a writ of mandamus, a legal maneuver moving the land use decision from the city to the courts. The couple hope the Circuit Court will compel the city to approve their application.
The city has not responded to the lawsuit. City Attorney Blair Henningsgaard said the city is unlikely to defend against the suit.
The preservation society opted to intervene, citing its mission to protect the city’s historic resources.
“As part of its mission, the Lower Columbia Preservation Society urges finding alternatives to the demolition of historic resources,” Carrie Richter, a lawyer for the preservation society, wrote to the court. “If approved, the subject application would result in the destruction of all 19 character-defining wood windows within a historic residence in violation of a substantive provision of the City of Astoria’s land use regulations.”
The Levys argue that the windows are beyond repair, and that replacing them with historically accurate materials would be too expensive.
The preservation society disagrees. Doug Thompson, the president of the society’s board, argued that financial support exists for fixing up historic homes, and that repairing the windows or replacing them with historic materials would ultimately be less expensive than using Fibrex.