PJ Piper purple awning perplexes
Plan Commission wrestles with permission vs. forgiveness

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Staff

Jan. 9, 2018

 PJ Piper will get to keep its purple awning after receiving its Certificate of Appropriateness from the Cedarburg Plan Commission last week.
Photo by Art Dahlke

CEDARBURG – On a split 4-2 vote, and against the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Commission, the Cedarburg Plan Commission voted last week to issue a certificate of appropriateness for the new PJ Piper Pancake House awning.

It’s purple, if you haven’t noticed.

“The Landmarks Commission really struggled with this,” said Cedarburg Planner Jon Censky at the Plan Commission meeting. “They ultimately voted on whether or not the color of the awning is appropriate from a historic perspective. The Plan Commission has a much broader perspective.”

In September, owner Judy Fergadakis came before the Landmarks Commission to gain approval of the awning she already installed on her business. At that time, she noted she was in error by not going before the Landmarks Commission in her attempts to improve the building.

At that meeting, the commission also noted that the awning was not a permanent change to the building, as awnings are replaced every five to 10 years. At that time, and again at the December meeting, the Landmarks Commission failed to accept the purple awning.

“That’s what we want – the Landmarks Commission should have a specific mentality; they are the authority on the historic district,” said Mark Burgoyne.

“But any discussions the Landmarks Commission has about the purple color should take into account the other purple building downtown,” said Commissioner Heather Cain. “My understanding is that is the historic color of that building.”

Burgoyne explained that about 15 years ago, colors chosen for the purple building at W62 N594 Washington Ave., were not brought forth for approval either and that the differences in the two purples were “night and day.”

“I don’t think two wrongs make a right,” said Commissioner Greg Zimmerschied. “This is a tough one; I struggle with making a business owner incur an additional expense. But there is a certain responsibility when you purchase a building in a historic district.” Fergadakis reported that she had checked with the installer of the awning about a means to tone down the color and any attempts to do so would likely damage the awning.

“I do think this will fade over time,” said Burgoyne.

Commissioners then questioned whether or not the city provided a palette of acceptable colors.

“Once you put in a color palette … every awning will be taupe, every awning will be green,” said Commissioner John Czarnecki. “Just drive to Germantown, you can guess what their criteria is – all German, boring.”

With that, Czarnecki made a motion to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness to Fergadakis. The motion passed with Burgoyne and Zimmerschied opposing it.