What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Question of Why?

There was a posting on the Oakhurst list serve that asked why we want a local historic district. We are trying to make this more of an information sharing area than opinion sharing area, but this type of answer requires some opinion.

It is difficult to say when and how the answer to why all came together because it started as a conversation. Eventually there were many neighbors talking about the value in the architectural history of their street. That did not mean that an indiviual home was greatly historically significant, although it is historic, but that as a group of homes and group of streets it represents something of a larger historic value. Neighbors talked, then folks went door to door and soon we had a lot of neighbors who agreed they valued the uniquely historic quality of their neighborhood and were interested in local historic district. As a group of citizens this request is being made. The answer to why became to protect the unique historic character that we value.

The local historic district protection is not being pursued in response to in-fill zoning changes. But the recent in-fill recommendations illustrate that there will always be two sides to any property rights restriction. It was not too long ago that a group of citizens got together and told their commissioners that they would like to see changes in the in-fill zoning laws. In their own way they were seeking protection of one of their values. An unelected task-force was formed for this purpose. There was even an informal ONA taskforce created for input. Many neighbors offered their input. There are probably Oakhurst residents that do not feel their input was reflected in the recommendations from the task force. Their only recourse is to voice their opposition with the City Commissioners. All zoning effects property rights including zoning to allow only certain types of businesses near schools, requiring sidewalks for all new construction, etc. Other ordinances protect citizens in other ways that also limited personal and property rights such as noise ordinances.

There will be property owners within the district that do not want the additional overlay. They have every right to voice their opposition. There will be property owners outside of the district that do not want the local historic district and they have the right to voice their opposition.

As a parting thought, the neighbors seeking the local historic district are not looking to be exclusive of the Oakhurst community and we do not want to be excluded. Many of us living within the proposed historic district give our time and sweat to this community and will continue. We want to be a part of the community and many believe that the local historic district designation can enhance to the community as a whole and hope to encourage continued commercial and residential development whether it is historic or non-historic.