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HPC downgrades selected guidelines

May 23, 2012


The Starkville Historic Preservation Commission voted Wednesday to downgrade some of its design guidelines for building sites, settings and landscape features at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

Guidelines pertaining to outbuildings, fences and fence-like walls, and the sites, settings and relocations of historic buildings will remain intact for the section’s next draft, restricting certain changes to historic properties. Guidelines pertaining to sidewalks, walkways, driveways, courtyards, patios, landscape objects, lighting, trees and other vegetation will be downgraded to a separate, supplemental packet of recommendations with no force of law.

Several commissioners expressed concerns with the latter guidelines, as they had at their April meeting. Commissioner Briar Jones said some of the amended language in the latest draft of the guidelines seemed even more prescriptive than before.

“There’s some things I’m just not sure I’m quite comfortable with,” Jones said. “In some of the pavement (guidelines), there’s a reference to the concrete (parking) strips. Yes, it’s beautiful ... but when it’s raining and muddy and you’re trying to walk to your house, they’re an inconvenience. If I were sitting on the commission 15 years from now, I would have a hard time approving the paving of someone’s driveway (using these guidelines.) This document states that the only materials allowed are concrete, (red brick and exposed aggregate).”

Commission chair Michael Fazio then asked the other commissioners if they wanted the revised section on landscapes and other matters to be top priority for Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director David Preziosi, who has been working with the HPC for the past few months on the guidelines.

“He would push everything aside and work on this section before anything else,” Fazio said. “We need a motion directing him to do something.”

Maxine Hamilton made a motion to this effect, and it passed unanimously. Not long after, the commission decided which segments of the section to keep as guidelines and which to place in the supplement, and when Jones made the motion, it passed unanimously.

The commission also reviewed section drafts pertaining to the city’s history and architectural styles. While commissioners did find some errors — Fazio said he found a reference to the 18th century where the 19th century was intended — no formal motion to address them was made. The commission agreed with Fazio when he said Preziosi could correct them without a formal motion.

“I don’t think (a motion is) really necessary,” Fazio said. “Eventually, we’ll approve the document in its final form. There are content (issues), but they don’t have to do so much with decisions we would make as background material.”

In other news, both Fazio and City Planner Ben Griffith said they could confirm the National Register of Historic Places nomination for downtown Starkville has passed the state level. Griffith said the nomination will go to Washington, D.C. for final evaluation in about 45 days. Fazio said he was part of the board reviewing NRHP applications at the state level, and compared with other nominations, Starkville’s went smoothly.

“Starkville’s (nomination) was calm, like water,” Fazio said.

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