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Board split on HPC role

April 4, 2017 GMT

The Rome City Commission will start getting regular staff reports about Historic Preservation Commission deliberations, with an eye to possibly limiting its authority later this year.

Changes to any buildings or lots within the city’s historic district must be approved by the HPC and its decisions can’t be appealed to the City Commission. The board has discussed revising redevelopment guidelines or instituting an appeals process but has taken no action.

“Everybody agrees with 80 percent of it, but 20 percent of it is like the wood window versus plastic window debate,” Commissioner Wendy Davis said.

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The HPC’s guidelines focus on materials and design elements to maintain the historic feel of a district.

A long-simmering debate came to a head in February after the HPC required the owner of Body Canvas Tattoo, 428 Broad St., to remove the new stone veneer from the front of his shop because the material is not considered appropriate.

Commissioners Craig McDaniel, Bill Collins and Sue Lee indicated support for modernizing the guidelines. McDaniel favors an appeals process, while Lee wants to see exemptions — such as for houses like the one she bought in an historic district that were built long after the period represented.

“Some of the houses have no historic value, yet they’re bound by the guidelines,” she noted.

But a majority of the board appears reluctant to do away with the guidelines or HPC oversight. The board was established to protect what City Manager Sammy Rich called “the fabric of our city,” its historical assets.

“The HPC serves a critical role in our community,” Mayor Jamie Doss said. “If it becomes a recommending body, we’ve taken the teeth out of our historic preservation ordinance.”

A new committee, the Business Development Committee, is looking at ways to streamline some application processes and may include HPC changes in its recommendations to the full board. Meanwhile, commissioners have asked staffers assigned to the HPC to make regular reports on its deliberations.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY

The Floyd County Republican Women will eat lunch at Red Lobster today at 11 a.m., with the meeting following at noon.

Habitat for Humanity is partnering with Lowe’s to offer a Women Build workshop on how to properly use power tools. The free workshop will take place at Lowe’s, 2338 Shorter Ave., today from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

The Rome Seven Hills Rotary Club will meet today at 5 p.m. at Dark Side of the Moon for fellowship and networking.

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Read this story online for a link to the Rome HPC website.