The City Council Monday night approved an ordinance authorizing historic preservation and the creation of a historic preservation commission.
The ordinance, which passed with a 6-1 vote, was proposed to “provide a means to promote the cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through the preservation and protection of structures and areas of historic and cultural interest within the City” and to “maintain established neighborhoods in danger of having their distinctiveness destroyed,” among other stated purposes.
Councilman Ron Carter was the only dissenting vote, and he called the ordinance one of most monumental to come before the council during his years in office.
Carter said he did not believe that most residents – including proponents of the ordinance – fully understood the impact it could potentially have. For example, Carter said, had this ordinance been proposed and approved years ago, some recent developments in the city would not have occurred and relatively minor, yet beneficial, changes may not have been permitted, such as the addition of outdoor steps or a deck at Woody’s Library Restaurant.
He added that the ordinance could create too much “red tape” and consequently discourage property owners from making improvements to their structures.
However, Carter’s fellow councilors contested that recent amendments to the ordinance would not allow such problems to surface. The amended version creates an adequate system of checks and balances, some councilors said, with the City Council overseeing the actions and decisions of the commission.
Councilman Kevin Rider said he was in support of the ordinance for the benefits it offers, yet added that his feelings will change if it is used for reasons outside of its intended use, such as preventing property owners from making changes to increase energy efficiency.
“If it starts venturing into these other areas, I’m going to spend the next four years trying to kill it,” Rider said.