Said council member J. William Reynolds: “The door fits in with the rest of the structure and the rest of the neighborhood.”
The words “Lehigh No. 1” remain engraved in the brick wall above the door of the restored building.
Dolan said City Council said almost always respects the recommendations of its commissions.
She said council has never overruled the historic commissions on the grounds that someone already spent the money to do something.
But Recchiuti said in the past City Council has sent recommendations back to the historic commissions without voting on them because council didn’t agree with those recommendations. He agreed that council generally should follow recommendations from those commissions, “but not every time. They don’t get it right every time.”
Reynolds said 99 times out of 100, council agrees with recommendations from its commissions. But he said council also needs to remember that its commissions are only advisory: “The buck stops with City Council.”
Why the wrong garage door?
Reynolds said in May 2012, Salamoni got approval to replace the existing garage door on the building. He said when the new door arrived, Salamoni already had removed the old door. So he had to immediately install the new one, even though it was not the door the commission approved. Reynolds said Salamoni returned to the commission to seek its approval for the door. He and Callahan indicated the owner needed a door on the front of the building to protect it.
But Dolan doesn’t understand why Salamoni did not check to make sure he had the right door before he installed it.
“Once you put it up, you sometimes feel you can lean on the sympathies of the commission. We have seen that multiple times here on City Council.”
Dolan noted one reason for the recommendation to deny is because the restaurant’s owners said they had problems with a garage door supplier, but did not provide the commission with any information to document those problems. She said the owners should produce documents showing their attempts to resolve the problem.
She said if it was not the right door, the supplier had an obligation to supply the correct door –“unless these guys didn’t order the correct door.”
Dolan said denying the door is the hammer for City Council to get the correct door on that building. “If we back off on this why should they push to get the garage door they ordered? They’ll have the approval.”
Council delays action until November
Dolan made a motion that council should postpone a vote on the recommendation to deny until its Nov. 6 meeting, so it can get more information.
DiGiacinto seconded that motion, saying council doesn’t have all the information it needs to make a decision.
The motion passed 5-2, with Reynolds and Recchiuti voting no.
Mayor Callahan encouraged any council members contemplating voting for a denial to first visit the restaurant.
Salamoni also wants members of City Council to visit his restaurant before they make any decision about the door. “Let’s really look at what we’re talking about. Look around, what is there not to like? We’re bringing life to the area.”
Restaurant owner rude to historic commission?
During the meeting, resident Mary Pongracz told council she serves on the historic commission that reviewed the garage door issue.
She declared Salamoni “was most uncooperative with the conservation commission.
He was insulting to me. I do not think it is fair to stand up for one person. Mr. Salamoni has not been cooperative. Why am I giving my time and my knowledge to be insulated by someone who refuses to follow the rules?”
“I wasn’t trying to be insulting,” said Salamoni after the meeting. “I have to invite her down and apologize to her.”
As for the rest of the commission, Salamoni said: “I respect their opinion and what they say. They are trying to keep the charm of the South Side.” He indicated he was just getting frustrated after attending four or six meetings about his garage door.