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City researches preservation possibilities 

preservation

At a recent City Council meeting, Managing Director of Strategic Initiatives, Becky King, updated Mayor Douglas Athas and City Council members on the possibility of enacting a historic preservation ordinance that would protect the downtown area. City staff, along with the members of the City Council’s Community Services Committee, has been researching the pros and cons of such an ordinance.

As part of this research, they have reviewed similar programs in other cities as well as the potential benefits of historic districts.

Different routes are available and the decision of what action to take, if any, will depend on the opinion of the downtown property owners and business owners as well as the general community.

One choice is to nominate the downtown district for listing on the National Historic Registry. This action brings recognition but does not protect the area in any way. To protect the downtown area, a local district would be formed and an ordinance would be written for preservation. With this option, the ordinance would place specific rules on what changes/additions could be made to the property in the district. Because the staff writes the ordinance, it can be as lenient or strict as the property owners and community wish.

Like in other zoning cases, there would be public hearings so that all citizens would have an opportunity to voice opinions and ideas.

Consultants at Quimby and McCoy Preservation Architecture have been engaged to help with the process. Nancy McCoy has made presentations to the board and general membership of the Garland Downtown Business Association. Most members present preliminarily agreed that applying for the National History Registry and/or declaring a local historic district with an ordinance sounds like a positive step, but more research is needed.

Staff and consultants have also met with some of the downtown property owners and business owners to gauge interest in the project.

An advisory group consisting of downtown property owners and representatives from the Landmark Society and Preservation Garland has been formed that will advise on seeking placement on National Registry and forming local historic district as well as review potential ordinances.

King presented the following goal statement:

“The goal of a Garland Historic Preservation Ordinance is to protect the integrity of…

Unique/landmark structures and places in Garland,

The elements of the built environment in a commercial district or residential neighborhood that influences the neighborhood’s character and harmony,

And the general character and appearance of downtown as a “historic” and “special” place in the community,

…while recognizing and protecting individual property owner rights and enabling an environment supportive of vibrant and productive economic development by balancing often competing needs with available, feasible and reasonable solutions in a timely and productive manner while applying agreed-upon definitions, standards and review processes.”