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, September 11, 2007

Historic Preservation Commission Meeting Tonight

There is a meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission tonight, September 11, 2007 at 6:30pm at City Hall. There are no Certificates of Authority for the commission to consider so they will be discussing the boundaries for the proposed local historic district. The chair of the commission has the option to allow for public input regarding the boundaries.

As background, historic district boundaries must use the guidelines developed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for determining historic district boundaries. A district must be a definable geographic area that can be distinguished from surrounding properties by changes such as density, scale, type, age, style of sites, buildings, structures, and objects or by documented differences in patterns of historic development.

The proposed boundaries include Mead Road to the East and Winter to the West. These streets were part of the original subdivisions for the Town of Oakhurst. Winter also has the physical boundary of the City Limits. Mead was said to have had a train stations called Meads Station which represents another historic boundary. West College is the North boundary and represents a physical boundary of the rail road. East Lake at Third Avenue represents a significant change in housing style. Mead Road runs to the commercial district and a one time was part of the 5-points intersection. Therefore, the boundary of the commercial district was used because of its importance in the anchor of history of the area. Additionally, this makes the district abute the Historic Landmark, Scottish Rite Hospital, which strengthens the historic value of both to the City of Decatur. Small areas of such as Leyden and Hood are included because they are completely surrounded by a concentration of historic resources. Drawing "donut holes" around non-historic resources within a district are not allowed.

Just because the nominators recommendation for boundaries was based on the above does not mean they will be accepted. The Historic Preservation Commission will make the final determination.

There are other older homes and homes of fine quality throughout the neighborhood. Exclusion from the boundaries does not mean your home or street is not worth perservation. However, the nominators, using the U.S. Secretary of the Interior's guidelines, found the proposed district to be a concentrated area of contiguous resources.


Outside supporter said...

Thank you for the clarification on the boundaries. I was told it was completely arbitrary with the intention of preserving houses on one street. I thought that did not sound correct, but did not know where to look for clarification. Good luck. I support the local historic district even though I live in a beautiful historic home outside the district.

One said...

It is important to note that the proposed boundries include several streets that are no means consistent with the architectual style of the proposed district, such as Hood Circle and Leyden which contain very few if any 1920's bunglaows. In addition, the boundaries skip over more intact streets such as Ansley, Jefferson Place, West Hill Street, Madison and other parts of Oakhurst without explanation or justification. Additionally, the boundaries include properties such as the East Lake Marta station parking lot, the Bell South property, and the Boys and Girls Club, which contain no homes that the purported district is trying to protect.

It makes you wonder if "historic preservation" is really the aim of the proposed LHD or if it is something else.

SD said...

Finally, two posts conveniently situated together to illustrate the exact inflammatory rhetoric and fringe positioning that leads many here in the 'hood to huddle in the middle, rather than align ourselves with either of the two sides -- neither of which (at least here) seems overly concerned with solutions that address neighbor opinions across the board.

Guess what! The LHD folks aren't obsessed with controlling your lives. Guess what else! Developers aren't evil by default. Who do you think built the very homes everyone's getting so worked up about?

If there's any serious attempt by either side to understand the desired outcomes of the other, it's lost on most of us. How can anyone expect any meaningful level of community buy-in one way or another with these kind of superficial, stereotypical absurdities flying back and forth?

Facilitator said...

I hope you will reconsider your opinion about the local historic district effort. The nominators have repeatedly stated that we do not want to halt renovation or new construction. We also are not in any way stating that developers are evil. We have repeatedly stated our theme that local historic district is a good shared vision for smart development that would allow for renovation and new construction and even multi-family construction that is compatible with the historic resource we are trying to protect. I delete inflamatory comments on both sides. Do not let the inflamatory rhetoric on other blogs carry over to this blog. Thanks as always for your input.

Facilitator said...


As always we regret that you feel that the nominators have arbitrarily selected boundaries for the local historic district. We are not historic preservation experts and our nomination was simply our nomination as residents of the City of Decatur. We did extensive research on how to select boundaries even though the City of Decatur does not expect its citizens to have this knowledge and why the HPC will make the ultimate decision regarding the boundaries.

To your question regarding Ansley, Jefferson Place, West Hill, and Madison. First, these streets do not create a contiguous area which is one of the requirements of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Second, according to the historic survey conducted by Darlene Roth and other studies on the history of Decatur the same set of developers developed the area within the boundaries recommended during the same time period and the area was part of the original development of the Town of Oakhurst. Known of the other streets named in your post were part of the Town of Oakhurst nor were developed by the same persons.

You are correct that the nominators may have made an error in not recommending Madison. It was our mistake because we thought there was too much infill that had changed the character, but in fact the block between Johnston and Bryan are quite intact. That is why the HPC gets to correct our errors. We probably made others because we are not preservation experts.

To address your question regarding Marta, Bell South and Boys and Girls Club. Actually, the Marta Parking Lot lies on top of the area that was originally part of the Town of Oakhurst. It also acts as a physically definable boundary for the local historic district. Bell South property contains a very historic building that once served as the education building for Oakhurst Baptist Church. There is a photograph on this blog that shows the vacation bible school class at what is the parking lot for Bell South at Third Avenue. The Boys and Girls Club is included because it was the gateway to Third Avenue. I do not know if that property meets the U.S. Secretary of the Interior guidelines or not. The HPC will make that determination and educate us all.

I hope that this answers the questions regarding why the boundaries were selected and helps you to understand what we hope to preserve. Thank you for your questions.

SD said...

Thanks for the comments. I think there are quite a number of residents, like me, who are more than sympathetic to the idea of preservation of character, which is why I believe the neighborhood may be closer to a consensus than it seems at the surface. I just wish some of the participating discourse on both sides would remain focused on desired results and outcomes -- instead of who's right or wrong -- so we could really explore whether or not some variation of an LHD could deliver them.

Not saying there haven't been efforts to do so; just that such efforts keep getting offset by overly emotional rhetorical grenades. The result is that, for many (at least as I've found), hesitance to join either side comes down to two perceptions:

1. Keep Oakhurst Weird. This neighborhood is an eclectic and, let's admit it, delightfully weird collection of folks and I think some are concerned that that level of individual expression, local color, artistic flair, etc., might be curtailed in the context of aesthetic coding. Some folks like the idea of a miniature Stonehenge model made of cobblestones as the central element of a front yard. Can't say I blame 'em.

2. Me-First isn't Attractive. Whether it's their intention or not, much of the anti-LHD messaging reflects the all too common American tendency to demand personal freedoms with little regard for the external, community-wide repurcussions of such actions. There are plenty of fortified bunkers in Montana if you're suspicious of community involvement in issues of property. No need for it in a neighborhood that, at least conceptually, embodies community.

At least as I've witnessed, showing how we can maintain that physical sense of Oakhurst without the perception that our personality is being repressed may help your efforts leap the chasm.

I'm still following along and look forward to seeing where this process goes next.