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.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Why pursue a local historic district designation?

To answer this question we refer you to a previously referenced article: "What are Historic Districts Good for Anyway?" published by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources.


The New Hampshire legislature sums up the reasons for pursuing a local historic district when they extended the right to create them to their municipalities:

“The preservation of structures and places of historic and architectural value is hereby declared to be a public purpose. The heritage of the municipality will be safeguarded by:
I. Preserving a district in the municipality which reflects elements of its cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history;
II. Conserving property values in such district;
III. Fostering civic beauty;
IV. Strengthening the local economy; and
V. Promoting the use of a historic district for the education, pleasure, and welfare of the citizens of the municipality.”[RSA 31:89-a (1963), now RSA 674:45]

The law was later revised to emphasize the importance of cultural resources and community history.

What does it mean to preserve community history?

There once was a City called Oakhurst. The history of the existence of that City has been erased by the development of MARTA. We have no sense of place in regard to how that City once looked. Therefore, many of the stories of the people who formed that City are also lost. What we do have is the first church established in that community and a sense of the community that formed that City.

What does it mean to have a sense of history?

If you stand in Harmony Park and look toward the intersection of Oakview and East Lake you can visualize the five point intersection that once existed. You can see the path of the trolley lines and if you use your imagination you can hear the trolley bells. We have one of just a handful of such places. Most intersections have been altered beyond the recognition of their history. We are not advocating that every intersection be frozen in time. We are not advocating that transportation improvement not be made. We are not advocating that the community stop growing or stop building. We are advocating preservation of a bit of the history that remains in our community so we can preserve the stories of those who once lived here and those who live here now.

There are many more layers of history to preserve beyond the initial development of the community. Check back and we will share that history with you.


Wilson said...

What are the cultural, social, architectural, etc. aspects you are trying to protect anyway?

Kindred said...

Cultural: In our constantly changing world, we need reminders of how things were and preserving historic buildings provides an anchor to the past, as well as an incentive to the future. Without historic buildings reminders of the past are lost. Look at the MLK district. The buildings remind us of a story of Martin Luther King's life and the lives of the many local civil rights leader great and small. Without the buildings we would have only a bronze statue and that would do a disservice to history. Oakhurst may not have as rich of a history as MLK district, but the proposed district does an excellent job of showing the history of middle class Decatur as it transitioned from the rail to trolley to car. How much more of Oakhurst can be destroyed before we forget that it was once it's own town?

Kindred said...

Social: We currently live in a very diverse community. The diversity is in culture, socio-economic status, life style, race, religion and everything else that gives life spice. Diversity is difficult to retain in housing because it often gravitates towards homogenity. In the land market when a place becomes more valuable developers begin to maximize the land use, which in turn destroys the diversity of housing styles. The community becomes less diverse both in structure and people. By intervening in the land market makes residents and developers more aware of the social value of the community. Renovation and new construction fits into the community instead of redefining the community. The variety of housing sizes and prices remain and the homogenity of the community is slowed if not stopped. Local historic districts have been used for years to try and provide affordable housing for the poor and middle class.

Kindred said...

The design guidelines for renovation and new construction are created to protect the unique hisotric character of a neighborhood. This is the cornerstone of historic preservation.

Historic buildings provide a contrast to more modern structures, which is what makes them appealing.