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HPC sets election policies for officers

June 26, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
sdnedu@bellsouth.net

The Starkville Historic Preservation Commission discussed policies for electing its officers in future years at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

Two members of the commission were missing: current Chair Michael Fazio and Commissioner Tom Walker. After some discussion, the commissioners unanimously voted to wait until their next meeting to vote on the matter, both to have a clean copy of the policy with the amendments discussed and to give the missing members a chance to vote.

The commission began the election discussion with policies which would place elections for both chair and vice chair in July during even-numbered years or as soon after as possible, limiting terms to two years and limiting officers to two consecutive full terms. After this term limit, officers would not be allowed to serve in an elected capacity for one calendar year, and only commissioners with at least two years remaining on their appointment would be eligible for nomination.
Maxine Hamilton, presiding as vice chair in Fazio’s absence, said it was worth noting these provisions would prevent a vice chair who served for four years from running for chair.

“We might want to write it where the chair is elected in even (years) and the vice chair is elected in odd (years), because sometimes it’s a good idea to have a vice chair come in (as chair),” Hamilton said. “(In) many of our organizations, it’s a step-up procedure. I’m not being ambitious; I’m thinking of continuity.”

Commissioner Jason Barrett said he agreed with Hamilton on staggering the elections.

“It could potentially be good professionally, because if we have a chair and vice chair that run together four years, and then they’re out, (problems could arise),” Barrett said.

Commissioner Briar Jones briefly suggested removing the term limits to retain leadership as long as possible. Hamilton said she disagreed.
“It does need to be limited,” Hamilton said. “Ten years in the future, we might have someone that is very controlling.”

The commission also evaluated a draft of design guidelines pertaining to windows doors, shutters, awnings, canopies and storefronts. Hamilton said she liked the emphasis the window guideline draft placed on repairing existing windows rather than replacing them.

“Most of our new windows will not last for but a few decades, and the windows in the building have already lasted 50-100 years,” Hamilton said. “So, they are well worth doing minor repair to.”

Jones said he did not believe the language permitting the use of storm windows and storm doors was clear enough. He said storm windows in particular are important because they help original historic windows last longer.

“We’ve said pretty clearly in a number of meetings we’re not trying to (prevent) the use of storm windows,” Jones said. “If we say much about storm windows at all, I think we’re opening ourselves up to constantly being put in position (to discuss them). (With) storm doors, we have the same issues. I recognize we’re going to get some storm doors we really don’t want, but storm doors can be removed really quickly.”

The commission voted unanimously to delete much of the language pertaining to storm doors and windows, in an effort led by commissioner Cyndi Sullivan. She said, as she has in previous meetings, that she wants actions which do not require the HPC’s prior consent left out of the guidelines.

“If we’re not going to address it,” Sullivan said, “I don’t want it in here.”

Sullivan also asked the commission to delete the entire section pertaining to commercial canvas awnings and suspended canopies.

When the Starkville Central Neighborhood Foundation brought forward a nomination for downtown Starkville to join the National Register of Historic Places, some citizens raised concerns about being forced to comply with preservation guidelines. Members of the HPC and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History issued multiple reminders that only local historic districts have preservation guidelines with the force of law and national districts do not.

Sullivan said she wanted to avoid a similar controversy in the local historic districts Starkville already plans to establish.

“It is my preference not to address anything commercial,” Sullivan said.
Jones said he would rather table the commercial property matter, because he wants city staff and commissioners to have time to investigate interactions between form-based codes and historic preservation guidelines. He said he wants to know which one of the two building guidelines would override the other.

“These documents aren’t completely tied into our transect zoning yet,” Jones said. “These documents need to be watertight whenever they are approved.”

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