HDC emphasizes importance of approval process

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The Historic District Commission got an early start on the new year with a meeting on Jan. 2. Commissioners had scheduled several site visits earlier in the evening, including 9 Prospect Ave., where Vance and Lori Hunter had applied to build a new garage. Commissioners noted that the roof will match the house roof, and the visible part of the foundation would be limestone.

Window replacements at two Spring Street locations were approved. At property owned by Jay Gustin at 60 Spring St., approval was given for new windows in existing spaces similar to windows already replaced. At property owned by Jim Nelson at 37-39 Spring St., 11 windows will be replaced.

At the last meeting, commissioners discussed two fences built without permits, and decided to postpone action until after site visits. Commissioner Dee Bright objected to part of a fence built by Justin Robins at 42 Armstrong St., as the structure includes a header over the gateposts. “As it stands right now, I don’t think it fits with the home,” she said. Robins suggested using the same pickets in a fan shape. “Anything you do, you have to come back to us,” Bright said. “Otherwise, my recommendation would be to take it down.”

At 19 Jackson, Robins built a 48-in. fence. “That fence is higher than it’s supposed to be for the historic district,” Bright said. “You’ve just got to come to us before you do anything, I can’t stress that enough.” Commissioner Mark Ingram spoke in favor of the fence, but only because the house sits high enough that the fence does not hide it. Commissioners said a stained or weathered finish would further help to minimize the fence, as opposed to white paint.

Commissioners also voted in favor of several items on the administrative approval list. Glenna Booth updated commissioners on property complaints, and distributed copies of two forms people can use in lodging complaints. Booth said complaints can also come in through e-mail, but a photograph should accompany any complaint.

Chair Steve Holifield said property neglect concerns him more than the details of the applications that come before the commission. “I’m more concerned for the properties that are not doing anything and watching them rot,” he said. “If people see something, they should report it.”

Commissioner John Nuckolls agreed, noting that two properties had come before the commission last year for demolition. “We need to do something as a commission to help the enforcement of ordinances to protect contributing historic properties,” he said. “We can’t allow houses to fall apart that are important to the city.”

Nuckolls also offered a word in support of those who keep second homes here. “Some of them are doing excellent things, and I appreciate the folks from out of town bringing money into the city to preserve property.”

Commissioners voted for officers for the coming year, and Holifield will serve another term as chair. Nuckolls will serve as vice-chairman, Magi Hayde as secretary, and Judy Holden as treasurer.

HDC will meet next at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 16, in the lobby of The Auditorium. Level III applications were due by Jan. 3, and the deadline for Level I and Level II falls on Thursday, Jan. 10. The Feb. 20 meeting will move to the following day, because of a conflict with a Certified Local Government training session in Little Rock. Several commissioners will miss that meeting, but the commission expects to have a quorum.

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