The City Planning Commission took up the issue of what to do about preserving the character of Old Town, an area north of 12th, between the downtown business district and D Ave.
Of the two dozen or so people who testified Wednesday night, most were in favor of changes in the proposed ordinance to impose new restrictions on construction in Old Town. In fact, most of the testimony came from a group of Old Town residents who met and drafted a counter-proposal, then gathered 42 signatures.
Their proposal would require that the city consider the scale of surrounding buildings when it issues a building permit for new construction. Other sections of their proposal would encourage the preservation of historic structures, provide neighborhood notification of new construction and remodels that increase house size.
But, scale seemed to be the major issue among those testifying. Richard Storwich said “The most important goal is to retain the scale of the homes already there so the neighborhoods aren’t overwhelmed.”
Dan Farmer said he does not support the proposed 25 foot height limit to preserve views. “Its a bad deal, the design equivalent of ethnic cleansing.” He added “This is a unique area, don’t try to put it into a mold.”
Susan Rooks urged the Commission to “think about historic buildings; they tell the story of our community.” She said preservation “makes good environmental sense and good economic sense.”
City Council member Nick Petrish said "Since I kick-started this thing, I want to say that I'm concerned about preserving historic homes and preserving views."
Boshie Morris said “We need some standards,” adding “We’ve lost five homes to removal that I can see from my back porch.”
Jim Young opposed “any sort of architectural review, which could force a cookie-cutter look.” He wants some incentive for the city to preserve historic homes.
Jerry Osborne said “This isn’t a theme town. If this goes into effect, there will be litigation.”
Lowell Doyle said he was concerned that if fire or earthquake destroyed his 1915 home would he be able to rebuild it as it is under the proposed rules.
The Planning Commission will accept written comments until 5 pm Wednesday, June 18 and will discuss it at their meeting on June 25.