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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Value of History

A sense of place provides us with a canvas in which to tell a story. Nostalgia is one of the top reasons we visit places. Often, when visiting such places we spend money. I recently received an e-mail containing the attached photograph.

Four friends meet for lunch at the Universal Joint on a regular basis. These friends do not live in Decatur, but other parts in the state. They choose our warm neighborhood because it is where they grew up. They visit and talk. Their conversations are likely to include catching up on current events and reminiscing about their life in Oakhurst.

Without the sense of place and tie to the past they would likely not be drawn here. The ability to see a glimpse of what a building or group of buildings looked like in the past draws on nostalgia, a very powerful thing. If the neighborhood does not retain that sense of place, that link to the past, then it is no longer a nostalgic destination.

Sure, this trip down memory lane only brings in $40-50/month or so for one of our local eating establishments. But, this is not the only story we have heard about other former residence returning to the home they grew up in. We have also heard from visitors that spend time in Oakhurst because it reminds them of the place they grew up and because that place no longer exists for nostalgic purposes.

Local historic districts help keep this link to the past, which is valuable aesthetically and economically. The purpose of such a local district zoning is not to freeze a place in time, but to make sure new development does not erase the past.