Paul Minze put a positive spin on the defeat of the ballot initiative to eliminate the Historic District Commission. “I’m happy the people had the opportunity to vote on this for the first time in forty-two years,” he said in an Independent interview on Thursday.
Minze had to collect at least 146 signatures to place the measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. He advertised extensively in advance of the vote, and 319 voters agreed with him, with 854 voting to retain the HDC. In response to a question about the numbers, Minze said, “I can’t say I’m disappointed. Those 319 (voters) establish a good base to watch all HDC actions and decisions.”
He plans to do more than just watch the HDC. “They can expect to see this (on the ballot) again in two years,” he said.
HDC commissioners have already made plans to carry out a formal review of their guidelines in early 2021, but Minze does not plan to take part in that process. “I want to be informed, though,” he said.
Minze came to the HDC in January 2015 asking to make some exterior changes to a house at 35 Mountain St. Commissioners approved some of the proposed work on the side of the house facing Owen Street, but they would not allow any changes to the door or to the size of the windows on the primary facade. Minze did not attend that meeting, but the contractor who attended thought he had approval to move one window on the Mountain St. side. When Minze returned to the HDC in July, they explicitly told him not to move the window.
At that point, Minze had the opportunity to appeal to circuit court, in keeping with state regulations governing HDCs. Instead, he had his workers move the window. The city eventually responded with a Stop Work Order on the property, and Minze and the city ended up in circuit court. Circuit Judge Scott Jackson told Minze, “The only finding this court can make is to move the window back. You were told ‘no’ and you moved it anyway.”
Minze has appealed the ruling, although his appeal was rejected because the case remains open in the local court. “I’ll continue until the last court tells me I have to,” he promised.