May 19, 2010 10:23:00 AM
The Starkville Board of Aldermen took the first step toward protecting the city''s historic homes and landmarks Tuesday when it voted 6-1 to form a Historic Preservation Commission.
The seven-member commission, whose members have not yet been named, will advise the Board of Aldermen on matters relating to historic preservation in the city, including the designation of historic districts, landmarks and landmark sites.
The Board of Aldermen ultimately will pass ordinances which designate areas of the city as historic districts and landmarks based upon the Historic Preservation Commission''s recommendations. The vote Tuesday did not establish any historic districts or landmarks.
The Greensboro Street Historic District, Nash Street Historic District and Overstreet School Historic Districts already are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but inclusion on the Register does not guarantee protection of property, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey said.
"That doesn''t give them any protections on the local level, which is one of the reasons behind this ordinance," Corey said.
According to the ordinance, an historic district can consist of a group of two or more tax parcels and their structures, and may be an entire neighborhood of structures linked by historical association or historical development. An historic district may include both residential and non-residential structures.
The Historic Preservation Commission will review permit applications for alterations, construction, demolition, relocation and subdivision of structures in the newly formed historic districts.
For residents who live in city-designated historic districts, no exterior feature of any home or other resource shall be altered, relocated or demolished until after an application for a certificate of appropriateness for such work has been approved by the Historic Preservation Commission. However, the Historic Preservation Commission only will serve in an advisory capacity to the Board of Aldermen and aldermen will have to approve certificates of appropriateness before the city issues building permits.
To receive a certificate of appropriateness, all exterior alterations to a building, structure, object, site, or landscape feature must be compatible with the resource itself and other resources with which it is located, including architectural design, materials, size, color, trim and other features, according to the ordinance.
To receive a certificate of appropriateness for construction projects in Starkville''s historic districts, new structures also must be visually compatible with the surrounding environment, including height, gross volume, materials, textures, colors, patterns and roof design, among other features.
Additionally, a certificate of appropriateness will be necessary for demolition projects in historic districts.
However, a certificate of appropriateness will not be required for work deemed by the commission to be ordinary maintenance or repair of any resource.
Only Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker voted against the formation of the commission.
"I guess I just lean more toward homeowner rights," Parker said. "If they happen to live in a district and they are now blanketed into a Historic Preservation District, they have no choice in the matter. It greatly affects what they can do with their own home. That''s my main reason for being against it."
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said the city should embrace its older neighborhoods and promote them as tourism destinations.
"When you talk about Nash Street and you talk about Overstreet and you talk about Greensboro Street, and you talk about the importance of these neighborhoods and you talk about the character which they help provide for the city, whether it''s tourism or the vernacular or all these types of things, I think it''s really valid and I think it''s very important for us as a city to embrace this and respect what these things do for our community at large," Dumas said.
Four Starkville residents spoke in favor of the formation of the commission Tuesday during the third and final public hearing. Among them was Greensboro Street resident J.W. Bruce, who was on the city''s planning and zoning commission several years ago when a previous attempt to form a Historic Preservation Commission failed due to a last-minute campaign by citizens in opposition. He urged aldermen to approve the formation of the commission and make a commitment to the city''s historic properties.
"It will signal to the residents of the city that Starkville cares about its historic properties; it will give the owners confidence to invest in these properties," Bruce said.
A complete version of the ordinance can be found on the city of Starkville''s website, www.cityofstarkville.org.
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