Board takes step toward historic status

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brookhaven aldermen Tuesday took the first step toward becominga Certified Local Government Community and establishing a historicpreservation district in the city.

The move was prompted by Brookhaven Little Theatre’s efforts tosecure a grant to assist the community organization in therestoration of the historic Haven Theater. To apply, the city mustbe a Certified Local Government Community or be in the process ofobtaining that designation through the state Department of Archivesand History.

“We’ve got nothing to lose, and the possibility of helping theLittle Theatre get a grant,” said Mayor Bob Massengill.

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Aldermen approved preparation of a preservation ordinance forthe city.

Following adoption of that, a preservation commission with fiveto nine members appointed by the board would be created and then ahistoric district determined. The city would be re-evaluated everyfour years, the mayor said.

The preservation effort has generated some concerns in that thecommission would have input regarding building-related decisions inthe designated historic district. Alderman at large Les Bumgarner,who operates a business near The Haven, downplayed thoseconcerns.

“Property owners I’ve talked to really don’t think it’ll be muchof a problem,” said Bumgarner, who said he was willing to moveforward if the designation would help BLT.

How big the historic district would be remains to bedetermined.

Massengill said it could be as large as city wide or as small asa few parcels. He mentioned the Hardy House and the Alexander TeenCenter as locations that could be included in the district.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell said property owners in theproposed historic district should be asked if they are interested.Massengill and Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said buildingsand properties can be excluded from the district designation.

“This is not forcing anything down anybody’s throat,” Massengillsaid.

In other building activity, Massengill announced that the cityhas been approved for $278,000 in state HOME Program funds torebuild four homes in Ward Two. The city’s application includedfive homes originally, but one homeowner withdrew, the mayorsaid.

“We are ready to start moving forward on that,” Massengillsaid.

Under the program, new homes are expected to be built to replacethose that are substandard. Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates willnotify homeowners of the project approval.

Also regarding homes, aldermen voted to raise the water servicedepartment deposit fees on new homes from $10 to $125. The new feeis the same amount paid by renters.

The deposit increase for home owners was prompted after cityofficials noticed a problem in the amount of water departmentwrite-offs related to home owners.

Last night, aldermen wrote off as uncollectable $8,400 in waterbills. Of the people on the list, Massengill said 32 were homeowners who left without paying their water bills.

In the ongoing effort to build the Multi-Modal TransportationFacility, Massengill said AMTRAK has budgeted $50,000 to assist thecity. Under the provisions of federal funding to build thefacility, the city is required to have a partner in theproject.

“As soon as we had the partner, we were ready to move forward,”said Massengill, who was optimistic the long-sought project willturn out OK.