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Council approves historic changes

Monday, October 2, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

In addition to the myriad other things passed on Thursday, City Council also moved forward with changes to how the city handles historic preservation in cases where the owner is opposed to the designation. Council voted 9-1 to change the threshold required for moving such cases forward from the Historic Landmark Commission with Council Member Ellen Troxclair absent and Council Member Delia Garza opposed. Previously, a supermajority of two-thirds of commissioners had to support historic zoning in cases where the owner was opposed in order to initiate the case and move it on to City Council for a final vote. However because a supermajority of the full commission is required even when commissioners are absent, some Council members and members of the community were concerned that the requirement was too high, and leading to unintended consequences. Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, who championed the change, noted that it was unlikely to have a huge impact on the number of cases headed to Council. Last year, there were only four cases that would have been affected by the switch, but one of those was the Montopolis Negro School, which will ultimately be preserved as a museum by much, much more convoluted means. “While there aren’t very many cases, there have been significant enough ones where I’m really glad we’re making this change,” said Tovo. Of course, Council will still have to approve such cases with a supermajority of their own, as is required by state law.

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