The Historic District Commission again met an hour early for a workshop before its Sept. 20 meeting. Chair Virgil Fowler picked up where he left off two weeks earlier, discussing a fine structure for different violations of historic district guidelines.
Fowler said he had researched what other cities do for fines, but most of the cities are much larger than Eureka Springs with staffs to handle these violations. Also some guidelines seem vague, he will continue his research.
“We have a fine structure already,” commissioner Wendi Super commented. Fowler responded that the structure of one fine for all violations was too vague.
Commissioner Melissa Greene agreed with Super that the fine structure is okay, but the problem is enforcement. She said they must be consistent if they are going to bother with violations at all. Her question was would Mayor Butch Berry back them up? “Otherwise we’re just wasting our time.”
Commissioner Dee Bright agreed with Greene that the next step was to have a cooperative information-sharing session with the mayor.
Greene asked, “Why make new fines to just sit on the books?” She suggested they meet with Berry and tell him how they feel, and Bright said sooner was better.
Fowler acknowledged they should step back from the previous direction of developing a deterrent schedule, and commissioner Mark Ingram volunteered to organize their thoughts for a proposal to the mayor.
Commissioner Steve Holifield suggested they provide the mayor with specific examples of violations left unremedied, and examples aplenty sprang forth.
Greene asserted she knows of cases that have gone unaddressed for more than a year. She said there is a balance in a small town, and not everything is black and white, but some things are. She stated commissioners try to do their jobs, but “we can’t operate as commissioners if we don’t have backup. This is not a witch hunt. If there’s no deterrent, it’s hard to get compliance.”
Fowler said there would be a one-hour workshop prior to the Oct. 4 meeting to discuss Ingram’s proposal.
Paint it purple
Commissioners briefly discussed points in the guidelines that seem contradictory with what has been approved through the years. Greene suggested they re-examine some guidelines, such as the one which prohibits adding a stairway to the side of a building. Super pointed out the guidelines do not allow “garish” paint colors, and asked what garish actually meant if not the colors on certain houses in town.
Bright answered they keep records of the houses for historical reasons, and Fowler opined paint color begs the question of temporary versus permanent. He wondered if there were a definition of “temporary.”
Super stated paint is temporary and they should not have to keep records of paint colors as they fade.
During the regular meeting, commissioners approved these applications for Certificates of Appropriateness:
- 8 Cross – extend existing deck with stairway and ground-level deck
- 194 Spring – new front deck surface; replace stairway
- 52 Copper – new paint colors; new roofing material
Commissioners approved these five applications on the Consent Agenda:
- 135 N. Main – new paint colors
- 63 N. Main – new paint colors on front door
- 13 Pine – new paint colors
- 78 Spring – new signs
- 78 Spring – new signs
The Consent Agenda items are Level I applications that the City Preservation Officer believes to be in accordance with the design guidelines.
Fowler presented one Administrative Approval, an application for repair and work involving no changes in materials or color, but which includes changes in roofing color:
- 15 Douglas – replace side step.
Next meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m., in the Auditorium lobby.