By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Historic Preservation Commission smoothed the boundaries of its proposed Overstreet and Greensboro local historic districts through strategic additions to and subtractions from the districts at its meeting Thursday.
The commission also discussed plans for public hearings legally required before the Starkville Board of Aldermen can write the local historic districts and their corresponding building design standards into law. Commissioners voted to hold one of the two required hearings at its regular January meeting, but instead of setting a date for the second, they granted commission Chair Michael Fazio the authority to set this date later.
The changes to the map largely served to remove properties that do not face key streets of the historic districts, to remove properties that jutted out and to add properties without which districts’ borders showed noticeable gaps. Fazio said these changes also bring the Greensboro local historic district’s borders closer to the ones the corresponding national historic district had when it was first added to the National Register of Historic Places. No adjustments were made to the Nash Street local district’s borders.
“When we began talking about the three districts, we agreed Greensboro would be only the original national register district and not the expanded boundaries,” Fazio said. “Partly, this is solving those problems.”
Some of the properties were removed for lack of buildings of historical significance, Fazio said, such as the school bus parking lot on northernmost Louisville Street’s east side and the Armstrong Middle School football field to the west. Decisions about other properties were less clear-cut and less permanent, such as a set of residences next to the AMS football field that were ultimately removed from the map.
“They are nice properties, but they’re not in the original district,” Fazio said. “We can include them later, but we wouldn’t include them now.”
Every addition and subtraction proposed — a total of 13 changes — passed unanimously, with commissioners Joy Day Greene and Cyndi Sullivan absent. Some items still brought on heavy discussion, especially a set of properties the commission added bordering South Lafayette Street just south of railroad tracks.
“This was the one that gave us the greatest difficulty trying to decide what was the right thing to do,” Fazio said.
One reason for this difficulty, Fazio said, was the presence of Habitat for Humanity houses on some of the properties included in this annex. Commissioner Tom Walker said no buildings in this annex are historic in nature, leading him to question the annexation.
“Are we making trouble for ourselves (positioning) houses that are not historic (such) that we’re going to have to review anything they do?” Walker asked. “If they’re Habitat houses, the people that live in them may not have resources other people in the area might have.”
Fazio replied, “It also means they’re not going to substantially change them.”
Commissioner Maxine Hamilton said while the Habitat houses themselves are not as old or expensive as other properties typically considered historic, they are not without historical significance.
“Building Habitat houses in the communities around here is a historic event,” Hamilton said. “Is there anything wrong with recognizing the social impact of the Habitat houses? (Those properties do) not qualify nationally, but we are a local (commission).”