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Landscape rules returning to HPC agenda for vote

May 21, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

Starkville Historic Preservation Commission members will revisit design guidelines pertaining to building sites, building settings and landscape features for historic buildings at its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting in City Hall’s building department.

The commission previously discussed a draft of these guidelines at its meeting April 24. The original draft included restrictions on maintenance, repair, replacement, alteration and installation of outbuildings, fences, sidewalks, driveways, landscape objects, trees and more, leading several commissioners, including Briar Jones, to suggest building owners might object to such restrictions.

“As a citizen, I would be sitting (in the HPC meeting’s audience) if somebody told me what or where I could not put something in my yard,” Jones said. “I would much prefer to see these as recommendations.”

After extensive discussion, the commission decided to return to the section draft at its May meeting, giving commissioners time to study it in greater detail. Commission chair Michael Fazio said the commission could then vote on the draft’s restrictions item by item, the same way they voted on building material restrictions in November.

“(The restrictions) would be either not be here at all, be here but be a matter of advice and not be subject to our approval, or would ... be subject to our approval,” Fazio said. “The intermediate position is one where we don’t approve it or disapprove it, but we offer counseling.”

For the past few months, the HPC has worked with Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director David Preziosi on design guidelines for historic buildings.

Once these guidelines are complete, the commission can establish local historic districts, and Fazio said they may share similarities with three Starkville districts already on the National Register of Historic Places, but the districts do not have to exactly match.

Within the local districts, he said, the guidelines will carry the force of law.

Two new sections up for the commission to review outline the history of Starkville and major architectural styles represented in the city.

Finally, the commission will revisit its process for certificates of appropriateness, which HPCs use to grant people permission to externally alter buildings they own in compliance with preservation guidelines.

At the previous meeting, the commission reached an agreement on a flowchart to explain the COA process to guideline readers, but Fazio said the commission needed to re-evaluate the form, which was based on a COA form city staff found from Franklin, Tenn. Fazio said he found a newer draft with information the HPC should consider adding to its own form, and the commission agreed.

“What I’m going to suggest is I go back to work on this and see if I can produce by the next meeting another two-pager that includes the information from Franklin,” Fazio said.

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