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, August 7, 2007

Letter to residents regarding the local historic district

August 3, 2007

Dear Neighbor,

In our constantly changing world, we need reminders of our past. Preserving the unique historic character of a neighborhood provides us with an anchor to the past and an incentive to the future. As a friend often says, if you do not preserve history, history tends to repeat itself.

The 1987 survey on the historical resources of the City of Decatur conducted by Darlene Roth states that the Oakhurst community was the most populated residential area of Decatur in the early 1900s. The bungalow homes built in Oakhurst defined the future architecture for Decatur and became the defining style for the entire City. Additionally, the area still bears the mark of the development of a community as the popular mode of transportation changed from rail, to trolley line, to automobile.

The Oakhurst community is not just valuable for its mark in history at the time of its development in 1910. Every decade has added its layer of history and remains one to be remembered.

How important is preserving historic resources such as an intact neighborhood? Consider the travesty of Beacon Hill. Beacon Hill was a very strong, intact neighborhood near downtown Decatur. The majority of the residents of this community were African-American. Many people do not remember this neighborhood and the many stories of community leaders and local civil right leaders from this community because the entire community was demolished. There is no anchor to this history.

Today we are faced with a threat of demolition of the history of Oakhurst and a further burying of our historic resources. According to in-fill development data, the majority of demolition and reconstruction in the City of Decatur is occurring in Oakhurst. This demolition and displacement is not as immediate as Beacon Hill, but the result is the same. Not only are we losing our unique, historic character, we are slowly displacing our elderly and middle-class residents.

In a study conducted in Philadelphia, it was found that local historic districts mirror the cultural and racial diversity of a City at large. This is unlike most housing developments outside of historic districts, which tend to be more segregated. This is valuable from a cultural sustainability aspect, but also supports that local historic district do not displace residents because it provides for a variety of housing sizes and prices.

We are not advocating the prevention of new construction or renovation. We are advocating the use of local historic district to authorize design guidelines for new development and renovation that is not destructive to the area’s historic character. We hope you will join us in supporting this local historic district to preserve the area’s unique historic character, its history and its diversity.


Your neighbors that support the proposed local historic district


Dane said...

What is historic about Oakhurst? What is your basis for nominating the district?

Facilitator said...

This is answered as a separate post.