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HZC discusses painting bricks
Katie Kemezis

Guidelines in McMinnville’s Historic Zoning District are being considered for expansion in an effort to protect masonry from paint. 

McMinnville Historical Zoning Commission member Katie Kemezis suggested the city consider requiring a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) when property owners want to paint brick or stone. 

“In looking through the approval guideline chart, it says that we don’t need a COA for paint colors but we do need approval for paint removal from masonry,” said Kemezis. “In looking deeper into the design guidelines, it says ‘paint colors will not be regulated by HZC and that the painting of original unpainted brick or stone or other materials is not recommended and complete removal of paint from brick or masonry surfaces is also not recommended.”

The guidelines were adopted by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen when it established the McMinnville Historical Zoning Commission as a way to give direction to those who maintain ownership in the downtown area and protect historic structures. HZC members enforce those guidelines. 

‘Not recommended’ means the act of applying paint to those materials is inadvisable. Because COA approval is not required at this time, HCZ members cannot prevent property owners from going against that recommendation.

“I wonder if it’s possible to expand the approval permit guideline chart to include a line that says ‘painting of unexposed masonry requires a COA,’” said Kemezis. “Painting does not require a COA so people think they can just paint anything. If you have painted brick, you can repaint it, refresh it, but painting unexposed brick we don’t recommend. I would think requiring a COA would give us the opportunity to talk to that building owner about it.”

Painting tired or out-of-place brick is an inexpensive, fairly quick route to an updated look, said Kemezis, but some paint can damage the integrity of brick or stone, especially aged brick on historic buildings. 

Alderman Steve Harvey asked, “So, by saying you need a COA to paint unpainted masonry are you saying that you can prohibit someone from painting their brick if they want to.”

“We can disapprove it, so yes,” said Kemezis. 

Commission members Kemezis, Harvey, Tom Ward and Rachel Killebrew unanimously approved the request to expand the guidelines to require a COA when unpainted brick or stone will be painted. 

Because the guidelines were adopted by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, any change must be presented for its approval.