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HPC discusses city’s downtown historic district

September 30, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

This week, Starkville’s Historic Preservation Commission moved the meeting it would typically hold in October to Nov. 3 to coincide with a meeting of the Starkville Main Street Association, allowing the two groups to discuss giving the HPC greater involvement in the establishment of a national historic district downtown.
The board also decided to recommend the Starkville Board of Aldermen approve a contract with Mississippi Heritage Trust Executive Director David Preziosi to develop design guidelines for the three local historic districts that currently fall under the commission’s purview.
At the meeting, commission chair Michael Fazio said SMSA had hired Preziosi separately to help SMSA apply to nominate downtown Starkville as a new national historic district.
Ben Griffith, city planner, said national historic districts are separate from local historic districts.
“The national designation enables property owners to take advantage of tax credits,” Griffith said. “At the local designation, that’s where the enforcement comes in. You’re talking two different sets of designations.”
Commissioner Tom Walker said HPC needs direct involvement in plans for the downtown national historic district to help property owners use the tax credits.
“We’ve got two responsibilities,” Walker said. “One is to the structures; the second is to the owners of those structures. With the first one, we’re doing our job, but with the second one, we haven’t been doing our job.”
Fazio said the commission still needs to move forward with design guidelines for its three current districts, coming back to the downtown district later.
“We decided these three districts gave us the best chance of selling this thing to the public,” Fazio said.
Preziosi gave a presentation on his design guidelines after his contract was recommended for city approval.
“One of the components of the guidelines will be a section on architectural style,” Preziosi said. “Historic districts, by nature, are very diverse. There’s things that would be appropriate for a Tudor house that would not be appropriate for modern structures.”
During the presentation, Fazio said when the guidelines go before the Starkville Board of Aldermen, HPC will compile photos and other information on buildings subject to the guidelines for the board to review.
“We will have a file that includes exactly which buildings we would be covering,” Fazio said. “It would be public record.”

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