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Fayetteville, Arkansas


Mith242

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Fayetteville's Historic District Commission is moving forward with plans to create a historic district along Dickson Street between St Charles Avenue and Arkansas Avenue. The aim to to protect the buildings along the street because over time they could be lost. The district would require property owners to follow it's guidelines and receive approval before they could modify their buildings. The district is now approaching the owners for their input and the ordinance could reach the Planning Commison and City Council within 6 months.

I know if I were one the 30-40 property owners along Dickson Steet affected by this I would be very concerned about how much control I was giving over my private property to the Historic District Commission. It seems that if a owner wanted renovate their building in a way that the commission didn't approve of there would be little recourse available to them. I wonder if buildings like the Lofts at Underwood Plaza (built on the site of a closed auto repair shop and closed night club and will generate huge amounts of property tax revenue)) and Bordino's (built on the site of a closed drive-in restuarant and another tax revenue generator) would have been possible under this district. The Walton Arts Center might not have been possible. What will happen with buildings like the former Pettus Law Firm- will it have to be preserved as is instead of a project using that whole lot? What happens when a building deteriorates to the point of condemnation- will the owner have no choice but to renovate it instead of redeveloping the lot as a whole?

Edited by zman9810
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Could someone explain the process of implementing something like this to me? Does just the city counsel have to vote, is this something that is presented to the people or, does this get approved by the ones residing/owning within the area in question?

Edited by Snaple4
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Fayetteville's Historic District Commission is moving forward with plans to create a historic district along Dickson Street between St Charles Avenue and Arkansas Avenue. The aim to to protect the buildings along the street because over time they could be lost. The district would require property owners to follow it's guidelines and receive approval before they could modify their buildings. The district is now approaching the owners for their input and the ordinance could reach the Planning Commison and City Council within 6 months.

I know if I were one the 30-40 property owners along Dickson Steet affected by this I would be very concerned about how much control I was giving over my private property to the Historic District Commission. It seems that if a owner wanted renovate their building in a way that the commission didn't approve of there would be little recourse available to them. I wonder if buildings like the Lofts at Underwood Plaza (built on the site of a closed auto repair shop and closed night club and will generate huge amounts of property tax revenue)) and Bordino's (built on the site of a closed drive-in restuarant and another tax revenue generator) would have been possible under this district. The Walton Arts Center might not have been possible. What will happen with buildings like the former Pettus Law Firm- will it have to be preserved as is instead of a project using that whole lot? What happens when a building deteriorates to the point of condemnation- will the owner have no choice but to renovate it instead of redeveloping the lot as a whole?

I think you have asked some important questions here and your fears about this are valid. I dunno what the process is for creating this district but I served on a historic commission in Natick, Massachusetts, and yes--we pretty much stopped everything from happening and even dictated the color you could paint your building....

The question is always what era are you trying to preserve?

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I hadn't heard anything about this for a while. If I understand correctly historical districts can vary quite a bit. There are some that are rather lax and some that are very stringent, down to what color of paint you can use. There are some historic buildings on Dickson that deserve protecting, but I hope this isn't being used as an excuse by some people to keep future development from happening. I guess I also wonder are they trying to preserve every building in that area? Honestly there are some buildings that I don't think are 'special enough' to deem worth preserving. If the economy got better and a developer wanted to put a development on the former Mr Tux location like was talked about before. Does this mean they couldn't go forward? I think everyone has a number of questions about this. Hopefully more info will come out about this.

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Historic districts are a way of controlling the evolution of a neighborhood or commercial district by protecting the existing historic resources and making sure that new development does not destroy the exiting fabric of an area. This is done by what is called a zoning overlay. Basically, all the existing restrictions stay in place (density, land use, etc.) and the historic regulations "overlay" the designated area. In order for this to happen, the city council has to pass an ordinance that allows for the city to create a new legal body of government. This legal body is what is called an historic preservation commission, or something along those lines. Commissions have to be made up of usually nine to twelve members from various professional backgrounds -- architects, developers, real estate agents, artists, historians,etc. in order to represent varying views. Once the commission is assembled (members are usually appointed by the mayor and council members) it sets about to identify the future district. Once the district's boundaries are set, then the commission must do a survey of the district. The goal of the survey is to determine what is unique about the district and therefore what is worth preserving. This is done by doing surveys of the various historic architectural styles that predominate the area as well as doing research as to the local significance of individual buildings (ones usually associated with influential people of local, regional or national importance) in the district (think Clinton Museum). Or the building could be a fine example of a particular architectural style or just be very well known locally and therefore be considered a local landmark (think of Old Main). Once this is done, the commission would have to work very closely with the community (or in this case, business owners) in order to hash out the specifics of the regulations. Once they are hashed out, the commission holds a meeting (that is open to the public) to adopt the regulations (must be done by vote) and then they send it off for final approval by the city council. That's basically how they work.

As far as scaring off development, that is not the case. It has been shown that historic districts raise property values because of the market stability they create where they exist. Also, what's really at the heart of all this is bolstering civic pride. It is about appreciating the heritage of your city and being proud of its old architecture and other vessels from its past. This is a way to have a true sense of place, character and understanding of a city's identity. It's not about trying to freeze a place in time, because that's impossible. But, it's about protecting the best things about your community so that future generations get to appreciate them and learn about them.

Hope this helps.

Oops -- just realized that F-ville already has a commission in place from the first post!!! My bad!

Edited by jiggyK
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Historic districts are a way of controlling the evolution of a neighborhood or commercial district by protecting the existing historic resources and making sure that new development does not destroy the exiting fabric of an area. This is done by what is called a zoning overlay. Basically, all the existing restrictions stay in place (density, land use, etc.) and the historic regulations "overlay" the designated area. In order for this to happen, the city council has to pass an ordinance that allows for the city to create a new legal body of government. This legal body is what is called an historic preservation commission, or something along those lines. Commissions have to be made up of usually nine to twelve members from various professional backgrounds -- architects, developers, real estate agents, artists, historians,etc. in order to represent varying views. Once the commission is assembled (members are usually appointed by the mayor and council members) it sets about to identify the future district. Once the district's boundaries are set, then the commission must do a survey of the district. The goal of the survey is to determine what is unique about the district and therefore what is worth preserving. This is done by doing surveys of the various historic architectural styles that predominate the area as well as doing research as to the local significance of individual buildings (ones usually associated with influential people of local, regional or national importance) in the district (think Clinton Museum). Or the building could be a fine example of a particular architectural style or just be very well known locally and therefore be considered a local landmark (think of Old Main). Once this is done, the commission would have to work very closely with the community (or in this case, business owners) in order to hash out the specifics of the regulations. Once they are hashed out, the commission holds a meeting (that is open to the public) to adopt the regulations (must be done by vote) and then they send it off for final approval by the city council. That's basically how they work.

As far as scaring off development, that is not the case. It has been shown that historic districts raise property values because of the market stability they create where they exist. Also, what's really at the heart of all this is bolstering civic pride. It is about appreciating the heritage of your city and being proud of its old architecture and other vessels from its past. This is a way to have a true sense of place, character and understanding of a city's identity. It's not about trying to freeze a place in time, because that's impossible. But, it's about protecting the best things about your community so that future generations get to appreciate them and learn about them.

Hope this helps.

Oops -- just realized that F-ville already has a commission in place from the first post!!! My bad!

Thanks for all the info. :thumbsup:

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Thanks for the information on how historic districts work. I''ll add this from the City of Fayetteville's website.

"The Historic District Commission was created on March 1, 1979, pursuant to the provisions of A.C.A. 14-172-206 to recommend the establishment of historic districts to the City Council. The basic function of the committee is to promote the educational, cultural, economic, and general welfare of the public through the preservation and the protection of buildings, sites, places and districts of historic interest. The powers and duties of the commission include: suggesting specific alternative guidelines for the alteration and new construction of structures; fostering and encouraging preservation and restoration; encouraging public participation in identifying and preserving these architectural resources; encouraging public participation in identifying and preserving these resources, and promoting the safety, education, health and general welfare of the citizens."

As far as scaring off development, that is not the case. It has been shown that historic districts raise property values because of the market stability they create where they exist. Also, what's really at the heart of all this is bolstering civic pride. It is about appreciating the heritage of your city and being proud of its old architecture and other vessels from its past. This is a way to have a true sense of place, character and understanding of a city's identity. It's not about trying to freeze a place in time, because that's impossible. But, it's about protecting the best things about your community so that future generations get to appreciate them and learn about them.

This a fine defense of historic districts in general but it doesn't deal with the specific concerns about the Dickson Street Historic District. A lot of what is mentioned is subjective- who decides whether the members of the commission actually represent varying views? The building that one indivdual sees as fine architecture another may see as an eyesore. What some see as the best things about Fayetteville others may not appreciate at all.

If buildings like the old University Auto Repair and Dave's On Dickson would have been preserved then the Lofts at Underwood Plaza would not have been possible. This would have meant two empty, deteriorating buidings that were contributing nothing to the economic health of the city would have prevented a project that will generate large economic benefits for the city from being built. The value of this property rose because of the construction of the new building- not because the two old buildings were kept. 100 years from now the Lofts will be seen as a building worth preserving, much as a new performing arts center with it's associated parking facilty would be.

This is just one example of how the historic district could affect the city. There needs to be a lot more open discussion about it and about the exact intent of the commission. Trying to keep Dickson Street as a museum piece and a complete relic from the past would not be good for the city in the long run. I'm concerned that this will be used as a tool to stop any development in this area rather than be an effort to preserve the the heritage of the city.

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Thanks for the information on how historic districts work. I''ll add this from the City of Fayetteville's website.

This a fine defense of historic districts in general but it doesn't deal with the specific concerns about the Dickson Street Historic District. A lot of what is mentioned is subjective- who decides whether the members of the commission actually represent varying views? The building that one indivdual sees as fine architecture another may see as an eyesore. What some see as the best things about Fayetteville others may not appreciate at all.

This is true. It can be difficult building consensus on what is a structure worth preserving. There are more philosophical arguments that can be made, but I won't get into that. At its most basic, the problem with many people not appreciating a particular building that might be much more interesting than meets the eye is ignorance or just plain lack of concern. One of the challenges preservationists have faced since the movement began is public education. Most people don't look at a building and think about what it used to be in its prime and in turn what that says about the area they're in and, further, what that building could be if it were refurbished to house new businesses. What if the old train depot had been torn down and the developer just built what ever was cheapest in its place? Isn't it pretty interesting to have new business in a building that used to be something totally different that embodies a way of life from a bygone era? I'm not saying everything is worth preserving, but there are many benefits to doing "adaptive-reuse" rehabs of old buildings instead of tearing them down and starting over.

If buildings like the old University Auto Repair and Dave's On Dickson would have been preserved then the Lofts at Underwood Plaza would not have been possible.

This maybe true, but given the fact that it just made it past the height-limit restrictions that were put in place in the area, it wouldn't have been possible then either. Historic districts don't prevent development, they just make developers produce a higher-quality product that fits into the fabric of the surrounding area. Think about how absurd the Divinity looks compared to its surroundings... Take a long look and think about it. It's out of scale, uses different materials, and completely different architecture. I'm not sure what architectural style that this is, honestly.

This is just one example of how the historic district could affect the city. There needs to be a lot more open discussion about it and about the exact intent of the commission. Trying to keep Dickson Street as a museum piece and a complete relic from the past would not be good for the city in the long run. I'm concerned that this will be used as a tool to stop any development in this area rather than be an effort to preserve the the heritage of the city.

At their core, historic districts are a grassroots effort. So there must be input from those who will be affected. This will be the people who own property within the proposed district. They will be the ones who determine the level of restrictions and such. Also, all meetings for discussion of the district are open to the public as well as all commission meetings and such. Feel free to voice any concerns you may have at these meetings. That's what they're for!

Edited by jiggyK
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I shold make clear that my concerns about the establishment of this district do not mean that I'm against the preservation of the heritage of the city. The example of reusing the old train depot was a great idea, as was resusing the Bakery Building, White Water Tavern and many other examples along Dickson. I would hate to lose buildings like the row on the NE corner of West and Dickson. I'm not against the district but am concerned about how it is implemented. The description given on the City of Fayetteville website makes it seem as if it would have mainly an advisory role but in other cities that is not the case. Some places historic districts decide every aspect of what goes on in them.

I imagine you mean the Legacy and not the Divinity as the Divinity was cancelled. This building probably did more to hurt further development in this area than any other single factor. If it had used the building materials that were suggested by the renderings it would have fit in much better.

The height restrictions aren't really part of this discussion but I'll say that I think they are ridiculous. The idea that in order to have a 15 story building everything around it has to stair step up to that height doesn't make sense. The height of a building shouldn't be the determing factor of whether it is a worthy project. The style of building and the building materials should be what count. The idea that it might block the view of Old Main certainly should not count. While creating a canyon affect like a Manhatten isn't a good idea, having several spread out landmark buildings would add to the character of the city . A century from now they would be part of the heritage of the city and in the meantime a tall hotel along Dickson would contribute to the economic health of the entire city.

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I didn't know that White Water Tavern was in F-ville. Last I checked that was a Little Rock establishment. I could be wrong.

I did mean the Legacy and not the Divinity. Again, my bad. They were both his idea, right? I have to wonder what it means when a person like Brandon can build a place like Legacy in a city. I haven't met him, so I don't know his charisma and game-talking ability. He could talk an inspiring game. Nevertheless, he doesn't seem to be a favored son of F-ville.

I've said all I feel the need to say. Improve the city the best you can.

jiggy

Edited by jiggyK
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I didn't know that White Water Tavern was in F-ville. Last I checked that was a Little Rock establishment. I could be wrong.

I did mean the Legacy and not the Divinity. Again, my bad. They were both his idea, right? I have to wonder what it means when a person like Brandon can build a place like Legacy in a city. I haven't met him, so I don't know his charisma and game-talking ability. He could talk an inspiring game. Nevertheless, he doesn't seem to be a favored son of F-ville.

I've said all I feel the need to say. Improve the city the best you can.

jiggy

Well..it's actually Hog Haus now- when I attended the University in the early 80's it was Whitewater Tavern. I think the one in Little Rock was in existence then as well. Dickson Street was a much different place then- kind of wild and wooley at times.

Yes, they were both Barber's ideas- he had some grandiose ideas that indeed didn't fit in with what Dickson Street is about. I still think the idea of a multistory hotel on the former Divinity site is a good one, it just needs to fit in style with what is there now. That's where my concern about the former Pettus Law firm building comes in - to make the best use of that lot it will need to come down.

Your comments are much appreciated- I hope you continue to contribute.

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Let me give you an example of how a historic district commission, with design review, could cause problems for people like me (someone who completely rebuilds residential structures, some of which are in the historic district.) I recently had someone who is very active here locally with historic preservation tell me that she "did not approve of what I do." When I asked for more details, she told me that I am destroying the "historic structures" in Fayetteville. It's a pretty outrageous and ridiculous assertion, because anyone who knows me and knows what I do is aware of the fact that I go to great lengths to do things right, i.e., only use natural materials, bring back proper window heights and sizes, keep roof ieghts and street profiles, am very sensitive to window details, and in general, try really hard to put houses bacck to what they once were in terms of materials and construction methods vs. make them look like modern characatures of something real. She told me once house I rebuilt, in particular, should have been preserved as it was. Never mind the fact that the owners I bought it from were considering tearing it down, that it had been in a fire, that it was a fire hazzard, that it was vacant and had a squatter, that it had white vinyl siding and windows replaced with smaller onces AFTER it was deemed a "contributing structure," etc. The facct that I put cedar shingles on the outside of it (it had them when built) and painted the trim olive green (the color we found it was early on) and added onto it (it was built as a two-room shack and had already been added onto at least three times) made no difference to her. I should have "preserved it." What am I to preserve? The vinyl put on in the 90s? The mill-finish aluminum windows? The window AC units cut through the exterior walls? The burned out framing on the back porch? The crumbling foundation? The unvented gas wall heaters?? This is the kind of absurdity that pervades these commissions. I rebuilt the house in a completely historic fashion with real materials. It went from an eyesore and fire hazzard to something that set a price record when sold and will be featured in Country Home Magazine this Spring/Summer. Yet this person--from an old Fayetteville family--"does not approve" of what I do!

This is why I think fears about historic districts and commissions are justified in some cases....

Mark

Edited by mzweig
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Let me give you an example of how a historic district commission, with design review, could cause problems for people like me (someone who completely rebuilds residential structures, some of which are in the historic district.) I recently had someone who is very active here locally with historic preservation tell me that she "did not approve of what I do." When I asked for more details, she told me that I am destroying the "historic structures" in Fayetteville. It's a pretty outrageous and ridiculous assertion, because anyone who knows me and knows what I do is aware of the fact that I go to great lengths to do things right, i.e., only use natural materials, bring back proper window heights and sizes, keep roof ieghts and street profiles, am very sensitive to window details, and in general, try really hard to put houses bacck to what they once were in terms of materials and construction methods vs. make them look like modern characatures of something real. She told me once house I rebuilt, in particular, should have been preserved as it was. Never mind the fact that the owners I bought it from were considering tearing it down, that it had been in a fire, that it was a fire hazzard, that it was vacant and had a squatter, that it had white vinyl siding and windows replaced with smaller onces AFTER it was deemed a "contributing structure," etc. The facct that I put cedar shingles on the outside of it (it had them when built) and painted the trim olive green (the color we found it was early on) and added onto it (it was built as a two-room shack and had already been added onto at least three times) made no difference to her. I should have "preserved it." What am I to preserve? The vinyl put on in the 90s? The mill-finish aluminum windows? The window AC units cut through the exterior walls? The burned out framing on the back porch? The crumbling foundation? The unvented gas wall heaters?? This is the kind of absurdity that pervades these commissions. I rebuilt the house in a completely historic fashion with real materials. It went from an eyesore and fire hazzard to something that set a price record when sold and will be featured in Country Home Magazine this Spring/Summer. Yet this person--from an old Fayetteville family--"does not approve" of what I do!

This is why I think fears about historic districts and commissions are justified in some cases....

Mark

I understand your uncertainty regarding historic districts. Even though preservation commissions are supposed to be objective in their interpretation of design guidelines that have been adopted by a particular historic district, they are made up of people, and people have a tendency promote their personal agenda, for better or for worse. I can't imagine this person would have preferred you to "preserve" the vinyl siding on a house that did not have it originally. Maybe this person is poorly informed in what preservation does.

Ultimately, the historic regulations that a preservation commission is supposed to uphold are formulated by the property owners within the district. The city cannot suddenly decide, "oh, we're going to create an historic district because...". It doesn't work that way. The city must be approached by a home-grown organization that has an interest in having an area protected by regulations. I don't know if there is a design review commission in Fayetteville. Do you have to apply for a certificate of appropriateness when you operate in the Willow Historic District?

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Before you attack something you should understand its intentions. Again, historic districts are not about making an area a "museum piece." Again, that is impossible. What they do do is guide development in a way that respects local history and identity.

In order to provide a little information about what these efforts aim to achieve, I've provided a link to the National Trust's Main Street Program that is designed to ENCOURAGE development and investment in downtown centers. Take a moment to understand these issues if you're interested, but don't just straight up attack something that you do not fully understand.

http://www.mainstreet.org/content.aspx?page=3&section=2

To my knowledge, Fayetteville is not planning on participating in this program. The reason I posted this link is because it has good information about how development occurs within historic districts. Please explore the site -- there are some interesting things on there.

By the way, I have no agenda nor do I have anything to do with this proposed district. I'm speaking merely as a preservationist who began commenting on this topic in another thread simply to offer information about what historic districts do and don't do.

I thought I would bring this back to where it was originally being discussed.

The stated intentions of historic districts aren't what my concerns are. Goals of preserving historic structures and making sure that new construction fits in are noble ones and very few people would argue against them. It is how historic districts are implemented and how they control what private property owners do with their own investments that is the concern.

A historic district is made of non-elected individuals who answer to no one once they become commisioners. By being appointees they do not have to campaign and publicy state their positions on development issues. Their backgrounds and qualifacations are not up for public scrutiny. The only way to have recourse against a commissioner's whim is to take them to court. It is better to use the existing city ordinances and regulations to govern what goes on. Fayetteville already has detailed design standards and a very detailed planning process in place to deal with development along Dickson Street. If need be, another zoning classifaction can be put in place with stricter design standards.

A historic district will be a way that elected officials can distance themselves from contentious development issues- they can simply say that they don't have an opinion on an issue because it is up to the historic district. That is not why we have a representative form of government. The city leaders chosen through the election process should be accountable and not be able to pass the buck to appointees.

Two examples of why a historic district could be detrimental to the area come to mind. When the owners of the old railroad depot on Dickson were renovating it they used a slightly different roofing tile than what had been on it originally. The replacement was still a high quality product and resembles what was on it. A local preservationist took them to task for this change. If the district has been in place and this individual had been part of it the depot owners would have had to change their plans at their expense for one person's opinion.

The second example is an instance that I recently read about that occured in one of the Hot Springs historic districts. A property owner bought an awning to replace three similar ones that had been damaged. Because it wasn't a exact replacement for what had been there before the district refused to let him put it up. Now the owner is in court fighting to get permission to put up the already bought awning. Because the chances of him winning his suit are slim, he will be out the cost of the awning he bought, the cost to purchase three more awnings plus the money and time spent in court fighting the district's decision.

I wonder how many redevelopment and new projects on Dickson Street over the last 15 years would have been rejected if a district would have been in place and how much a greater cost to business it would have been? At a time when Fayetteville is already hurting in economic development and seen as unfriendly to business a historic district isn't the answer.

Edited by zman9810
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name='zman9810' post='1045994' date='Feb 3 2009, 01:26 PM']I thought I would bring this back to where it was originally being discussed.

The stated intentions of historic districts aren't what my concerns are. Goals of preserving historic structures and making sure that new construction fits in are noble ones and very few people would argue against them. It is how historic districts are implemented and how they control what private property owners do with their own investments that is the concern.

Just because regulations limit what people do with their property doesn't mean that it will prevent them from a reasonable return on their investment. These sort of regulations promote stability and consistency economically and in terms of real estate values. Also, it they can also serve to protect business owners from inappropriate developments that could be detrimental to their business. Furthermore, there are regulations already in place: zoning, building codes, setback, fire safety, land use, and on and on. Property owners have to operate under all sorts of regulations as it is.

A historic district is made of non-elected individuals who answer to no one once they become commisioners. By being appointees they do not have to campaign and publicy state their positions on development issues. Their backgrounds and qualifacations are not up for public scrutiny. The only way to have recourse against a commissioner's whim is to take them to court. It is better to use the existing city ordinances and regulations to govern what goes on. Fayetteville already has detailed design standards and a very detailed planning process in place to deal with development along Dickson Street. If need be, another zoning classifaction can be put in place with stricter design standards.

It is true that commissioners are appointed and therefore not required to speak publicly about their personal beliefs. However, historic commissions are supposed to represent a cross section of the community -- and that means the development community. Even though historic commissions are considered a legal body, their decisions are ultimately approved by the city council. So they do not operate in a vacuum. There is oversight. Also, commissioners must speak logically and argue their opinions rationally. They cannot simply say, "I don't like this, so I'm not going to vote for it." If this happens, it is highly unprofessional and the commissioner's position should be evaluated by the commission chair person. These commissions function as a majority rules body, so it would take several folks to vote against a development for it not to gain approval. What's more, if this district is created, it is not written in stone that it will be overseen by a historic commission. Fayetteville already has some historic districts, but I don't know how they're regulated/enforced, etc. Do you happen to know what part of the city government does this, if any?

A historic district will be a way that elected officials can distance themselves from contentious development issues- they can simply say that they don't have an opinion on an issue because it is up to the historic district. That is not why we have a representative form of government. The city leaders chosen through the election process should be accountable and not be able to pass the buck to appointees.

I think if a development issue gets contentious elected officials will have to take a stance on them. I don't know. Maybe not in Fayetteville, but in most places if things become heated people are pretty quick to take sides.

Two examples of why a historic district could be detrimental to the area come to mind. When the owners of the old railroad depot on Dickson were renovating it they used a slightly different roofing tile than what had been on it originally. The replacement was still a high quality product and resembles what was on it. A local preservationist took them to task for this change. If the district has been in place and this individual had been part of it the depot owners would have had to change their plans at their expense for one person's opinion.

In this example, you are speaking about one person, and one person is not enough to deny a building permit. Again, I am unfamiliar with how Fayetteville handles these things. I need to learn more in order to know what I'm talking about here.

The second example is an instance that I recently read about that occured in one of the Hot Springs historic districts. A property owner bought an awning to replace three similar ones that had been damaged. Because it wasn't a exact replacement for what had been there before the district refused to let him put it up. Now the owner is in court fighting to get permission to put up the already bought awning. Because the chances of him winning his suit are slim, he will be out the cost of the awning he bought, the cost to purchase three more awnings plus the money and time spent in court fighting the district's decision.

I don't know how Hot Springs works either. How the process is supposed to work is that before any exterior change of a building can be made, the property owner goes before the commission with plans of what they intend to do. This processes is known as applying for a "certificate of appropriateness". Once approved, the property owner is then able to get a building permit. Therefore, the person knows whether or not the changes they plan to make will be approved before they spend any money.

Maybe Dickson St. doesn't need to be designated as a historic district. I don't know. I do know that Legacy looks embarrassing to the city. Also, it is sitting mostly empty from what I understand. Assume all of those proposed condo projects would have been built. How do you think those developers would be fairing now? And how do you think that part of town would look? It would look like a bad joke had been played on everyone. Developers aren't necessarily the smartest people in the world and don't always know what's best for them or the community they impact. Just something to think about.

Edited by jiggyK
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Developers aren't necessarily the smartest people in the world and don't always know what's best for them or the community they impact. Just something to think about.

I don't know if I'd word it quite like that. I think developers tend to have a particular vision. Sometimes that vision doesn't always blend in well what it around it. Although a lot of people might not care for a particular development there's always bound to be some who like it. The Legacy certainly isn't a favorite of the forumers here. But there are probably some who like it and might want more like it. Anyway just wanted to point that out. :D

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Zman thanks for posting your thoughts on historic districts. As the owner of one of the structures that would be directly impacted by this proposed district I must say that I could not agree more with you.

There are many concerns with this proposed district, most of which you have addressed. But the communication between the commission that will oversee the proposed district and the downtown property owners has been nonexistent.

Here's a frightening scenario that was actually given as an example to me and my neighboring property owners by 2 members of the commission: At one time there were plans to expand the Walton Arts Center to the South, with a new parking garage on city owned property that included the existing Grubs building. I think everyone could agree that this is a development that would greatly benefit the City of Fayetteville. But wait a minute.....because the Grub's building is considered a 'contributing' structure, it could not be razed, even for a major development such as the WAC expansion. Well, no problem you say, surely the City Council could address that issue if it arose and make an exception allowing for the proposed expansion. WRONG. The historic commision has complete and total authority over this decision--not just over private property, but over city property as well. Absolutely nothing our elected leaders could do if the commision decided against this development. In fact, the commission members we met with went on to boast that the ONLY structure in the proposed district that the commission would not have complete authority over was the US Post Office property and that was an issue of federal law. I'm sorry, but giving that kind of authority to a group of appointed people scares the hell out of me.

Another example is the property around the Depot buildings on Dickson. The owners of that property have tentative plans for major development on that parking area that calls for razing one of the structures behind the Depot building. Guess what? Can't happen if the historic district passes in its current form because all of the structures on that property are considered 'contributing' structures. This example also was given by 2 members of the existing commission.

Another frightening tidbit buried in the proposed bylaws of this proposed historical district: if you are not able to maintain your structure up to the arbitrary visual standards set forth by the commission then they will 'help' find a buyer for your property. How nice. Translation: if enough commissioners feel that your property is an eyesore then they have the authority to find a buyer to take your property by eminent domain, under the pretense of protecting the historical integrity of your property. Scared yet? It gets worse. I have copies of the proposed rules and regulations

So why would a property owner support such a district? The commissioners say it's for the tax breaks that come with the creation of such a district. Why else should I support the district, I inquired and was told 'well, that's really the big reason, but the tax benefits are substantial enough that everyone will want to be on board with the distirct'. My next natural question was this: if the tax benefits are really that substantial, then shouldn't that be enough of an incentive for property owners to preserve the historical integrity of their sturctures? Do we really need an appointed commission to regulate development? Why not create the district but make participation incentive based, rather than regulated by a group of nonelected officials? I'm still waiting for answers to those questions.

Don't kid yourselves for one minute, there are certain people who have a vested interested in seeing that this district passes as quickly and with as little public debate as possible. The surveying is complete, all contributing sturctures have been identified, the commission is already appointed, the rules and regulations are nearly finalized, all they are waiting on is city council approval. And all of this has been done during the past 2 years with no formal notification of any kind to property owners in the proposed district. Almost enough to make one suspicious. Hmmm.

Before anyone jumps on me about being against historical preservation, that couldn't be further from the truth. I have renovated, restored and maintained my structure in keeping with its historical significance and I intend to do so as long as I own the property. But I am strongly opposed to giving a group of nonelected officials the complete authority to regulate all such development in the Dickson Street area.

Edited by OnDickson
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On Dickson,

If what you say is true, then this proposed district is illegal. Under the due process clause of the 14th amendment, a commission has to notify property owners in advance of any activity on the proposed district. They also have to give the public and property owners plenty of notice even about each meeting they have to discuss the ins and outs of the district. If what you say is true then this cannot be upheld under law. What you are describing sounds completely insane and illegal. I don't know how it would be possible for this commission to have more authority that the city council. I'm completely unfamiliar with anything you've described. I definitely don't know everything there is to know about how historic districts are implemented and function, but everything I've learned about them so far (I'm in a master's program) is very different than what you have described. I'm simply amazed.

I strongly recommend asking them about public notices and how exactly they operate as a rogue element outside regulation by the city government. That's like the police force taking over the city, doing what ever. That's truly wild.

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OnDickson, those are some scarey possibilities. I've been trying to find more information on exactly what the Historic Commission can and can't do but there doesn't seem to be anything online about this particular district. I have read a lot about other districts and have found out that they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and public meeting laws. This commission has really been operating in stealth mode with very little publicity considering how large an impact it will have on the city (and it will be the entire city that is impacted and not just the area within the district's boundaries).

There are a lot of projects already proposed that will be rejected and a lot of good ideas such as the trolley down Dickson that won't have a chance if this district is established. A lot of money that has already been invested in the city will be lost and the chances for more economic development will go along with it. I'm going to research more and see what I can find out.

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OnDickson, those are some scarey possibilities. I've been trying to find more information on exactly what the Historic Commission can and can't do but there doesn't seem to be anything online about this particular district. I have read a lot about other districts and have found out that they are subject to the Freedom of Information Act and public meeting laws. This commission has really been operating in stealth mode with very little publicity considering how large an impact it will have on the city (and it will be the entire city that is impacted and not just the area within the district's boundaries).

There are a lot of projects already proposed that will be rejected and a lot of good ideas such as the trolley down Dickson that won't have a chance if this district is established. A lot of money that has already been invested in the city will be lost and the chances for more economic development will go along with it. I'm going to research more and see what I can find out.

Sounds to me like someone might want to raise a stink about the manner in which information is being withheld in this issue to the local media...

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Sounds to me like someone might want to raise a stink about the manner in which information is being withheld in this issue to the local media...

I don't know that they are withholding information as much as they are just trying to keep it as quiet as possible in order to avoid public discussion. It's sounds like it is all in place and with a quick vote by the council before the public is really aware of what it means it will be enacted.

Here's a scarey provision in the ordinance- if you're a business owner and can't afford to repaint your peeling back wall because of economic conditions this is what you could face. Remember- this is not by the city's determination- it is by a group of non-elected individuals who answer to no one but themselves.

(B) Any person who violates any of the provisions of

this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,

and upon conviction thereof shall be fined ten

dollars ($10) to five hundred dollars ($500) per

day after a 30-day period in which the person

may correct the violation, in accordance with the

Arkansas Historic Districts Act. Each day that a

violation continues to exist constitutes a separate

offense.

(Ord. 5177, 9-16-08)

Here's a link to the code page which contains the entire ordinance. The Historic District Commssion is article 10.

City of Fayetteville codes

Edited by zman9810
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Thats pretty standard language for those kinds of violations.

This is typical language of ALL local ordinance historic districts. And yes, the commission has final say. Otherwise, what purpose would they serve.

First, before the local ordinance district is established, I believe there has to be a local referendum on adopting it, so this addresses the education, awareness and "voice" in adopting it by those property owners in the proposed district.

Second, once enacted, buyers of property are responsible for all laws and ordinances that govern their property, including historic district guidelines. In other words, you buy it under these conditions - that's the deal - so there's no legitimate claim for ignorance later.

But fundamentally, this is about legislating "appropriateness". And since the general public at large has failed miserably in this respect, these districts often serve their purpose well, insomuch that they help preserve appropriate development and upkeep in the urban areas that deserve such.

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The Fayette Junction Neighborhood Plan was presented tonight.

I really like how they are naming all the neighborhoods, or bringing up the old forgotten names in this case, during this planning process. Walker Park is done, and now Fayette Junction.

Anybody know which part of town is next up for master planning?

I agree I also like bring out out the old names as well. I'm not sure what area they'll do next. So far they've been really focusing on the south part of town. I'm not sure how things will progress with the new mayor.

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