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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

To be honest and frank the more we learn about the historic district designation and speak to Oakhurst residents on either side of the proposal, i

Please try to attend this important meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday May 9th, 2007 from 7-8:30 at the Boys and Girls club.

To be honest and frank the more we learn about the historic district designation and speak to Oakhurst residents on either side of the proposal, it has become clear that this proposal that intends to preserve "the unique historic character of the surrounding" neighborhood has not and will only do so at a heavy price. The "surrounding neighborhood" contains a variety of unique and craftsman style homes, however, what makes the "character" of the neighborhood is the people that live and have established businesses in our neighborhood. Quoting the Oakhurst Neighbored website, (http://www.oakhurstga.org/index.html)

"Some of us have lived in Oakhurst for a generation or longer, while others have just arrived. We are many ages, races, religions, and creeds. Together, we are a community. People in the market for a home in Oakhurst "are attracted to the neighborhood's diversity of residents and housing, its excellent schools and Oakhurst's sense of community,"

"I lived in Dunwoody 12 years and hardly knew my neighbors. This is a very close-knit neighborhood with sidewalks and the little village of shops and restaurants where people sit out and talk to their neighbors."

The main topic being discussed among the neighbors (among those that are aware – and not all the residents are aware of the proposal) is this historic preservation proposal. Neighbors want to know why they were not informed about the proposal earlier. Residents want to know: who initiated the proposal; who comprises the committee forwarding this proposal; what is the definition of a contributing and non contributing house; how will the restrictions be defined; why were the selected streets included and others not; what are the likely costs associated with these design requirements; what are the costs associated with having to get approval of the preservation commission to modify my home; and many more questions and valid concerns that have not yet been addressed. Hopefully you received a notice on your mailbox about a meeting tomorrow night, Wednesday May 9th, 2007 from 7-8:30 at the Boys and Girls club. This scope of this meeting is to "discuss the intent document" which defines the reasons for seeking historic district designation and to "Work on the specific language of the design guidelines." The draft guidelines have been posted on: http://rbgraphix.com/Oakhurst/index.htmlThe organizers of the meeting have stated that "We will assume that everyone at the meeting will have read the design guidelines and thought about questions, concerns and suggestions for changes. All other questions will be parked for a later meeting and possibly answered via the oakhursthistoricdistrict blog." Presumably this includes the question of why we would want a historic designation at all, and how can this move forward in a democratic and community oriented way that improves the community rather than dividing it. However, if you don't attend the meeting your voice can not be heard, even if it does get "parked." The neighbors who have forwarded the application for the historic district appear to be plowing ahead stating, "It is very important that we give HPC {historic preservation committee} strong community recommendations on the guidelines" however how can the community provide input on the specific guidelines if the community is not sure they want the historic district designation at all…In our opinion the modest discussion that has taken place to date has not been fruitful nor has it enhanced the feeling of community in our neighborhood. Rather the idea of the historic preservation, the proposal process, and the proposal's vague implications has caused a rift among the community, alienating and separating those of us on either side of the proposal. This does not preserve but rather it denigrates the characteristics of Oakhurst that drew most of us to the community in the first place. Hopefully a better attended meeting tomorrow night, at which both the intent and specific design guidelines can be presented to a wider segment of the community, can begin the process to close this divide; if nothing else maybe we can start by acknowledging that such a divide exists. For or against, if you live in the proposed district, or even if you don't but still want to learn more, please try to attend this meeting. The only way our neighbors can really tell where we as a community stand on this proposal is if we all stand in the room together and figure out what it is about the community that's really worth preserving. Kevin and Robin Delaney


Facilitator said...

I really appreciate your comments. Many of the questions you pose are addressed on the blog and have been discussed in community meetings and will continue to be discussed in future meetings.

Throughout much of the early 2000s there has been conversation throughout Decatur regarding the loss of affordable housing and the appropriate zoning of residential housing in such a heavily populated urban environment.

Much of this discussion culminated in a meeting with the City of Decatur and organized residents of Great Lakes Neighborhood, Winnona Park Neighborhood, and Oakhurst Neighborhood asking them to address many of the issues associated with in-fill that was not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood. The City of Decatur through a public meeting changed the zoning laws and assigned a task force to look into making future changes to the zoning laws. This meeting occurred in 11/2005.

While those discussions were taking place there were a number of neighbors throughout the neighborhood who were worried about more than in-fill housing and building heights. On 11/16/2005 a meeting was held at the Solarium. The meeting was held with members of the Decatur Preservation Alliance and former board members of Historic Preservation Commission. It was a well attended meeting. Information was given on the process of local historic district and questions were fielded from the audience for nearly 2 hours. There were handouts discussing frequently asked questions about historic preservation as well as a multitude of other information. Communication continued on this subject throughout the neighborhood and banter on the subject occurred on the listserv.

Articles appeared in the Leaflet regarding the subject, both for and against, in March 2006, April 2006, and September 2006.

Another community meeting was held on April 10, 2006 to discuss National Historic Register and other historic preservation options with the community. It was another well attended meeting. It was decided by the neighborhood not to pursue the listing.

There were still many neighbors concerned about preservation and wanted to look into other options. After some research we landed on local historic preservation. Six residents began a campaign of door to door conversations with the neighborhood to see if there was any interest in such a pursuit. It was clear there was a lot of interest in a couple of concentrated areas. There were also people who were intrigued, but wanted more information.

Further research showed that there was a distinct historical thread for the current boundaries of the proposed local historic district. Meade Train Station spurred the development of the original City of Oakhurst that included Mead Road through Winter Avenue. The South Decatur Trolley Line spurred development between W. College and Oakview around the same time. Additionally, these boundaries still have some of the most intact homes from the period. Therefore, it was determined that we had pretty high interest for local historic district within these boundaries that represented an important time in history for our community and City.

What is now considered Oakhurst is not the original boundaries of the City of Oakhurst. No one is implying that they should not be considered Oakhurst today, but that is the history of the area.

Door-to-door efforts to discuss the pursuit of local historic district and give information about districts continued until January of 2007 when the application was first made. We knew at the time of the application that the education of the neighborhood had just begun and we knew that many meetings and lots of information would be necessary.

The Historic Preservation Commission asked us to reconsider our boundaries for historic reasons and we did. The new boundaries were accepted in March 2007.

Since that time we have had community meetings on 4/11/2007 to discuss the local historic district in general. Another meeting on 4/25/2007 to begin to discuss design guidelines. Future meetings include 5/9/2007 design guidelines meeting, 5/16/2007 design guidelines meeting, 5/23/2007 general meeting with City of Decatur and several meetings in June (schedule should be available today) with the Historic Preservation Commission.

It is true that as neighbors we will not all agree on this issue. But, only the neighbors can decide if it will rip them apart or not. This neighborhood has endured conflict in the past and remained a healthy community. I hope the discussion regarding local historic district will continue to be healthy and not turn into an insurmountable conflict. Education will continue and meetings will continue. In the end the decision on whether or not to have a local historic district will rest with the residents.

Thank you for your input. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Why have you not included link to City Ordinance Section 58-157 on this blog and discussed that repairs may be required and penalties imposed if repairs not made?

Why do you state that property rights will not be restricted if Oakhurst becomes LHD when they certainly will be?