Stanardsville Town Council Passes Comp Plan with Controversial ‘Historic District Ordinance’

By Pauline Hovey, Greene County Field Officer

On Monday evening (7/11) the Stanardsville Town Council passed its comprehensive plan by a vote of 3-1 without changing language that includes consideration of a “Historic District Ordinance” that had generated significant concerned among some property owners.

Despite having deferred to vote on the plan at the June Town Council meeting to allow more residents to review and comment on plan revisions, the council received no new comments at the public hearing held Monday evening. Only two residents commented on the plan: Doris Snow asked that the inclusion of a Historic District Ordinance be removed, and Don Pamenter spoke in favor of accepting the plan as is. Both own property in the “historic district” of Standardsville and both have previously stated their positions at Planning Commission and Town Council meetings.

At previous meetings, some property owners expressed concern that strict regulations would be imposed on them as a result of such an ordinance.  (Full Disclosure: Neil Williamson, President of the The Free Enterprise Forum spoke in opposition to the Historic District Ordinance at the June meeting.)   But, as council member Martha Leclere pointed out during the hearing, the comp plan does not mandate that such an ordinance be established, but rather only suggests it can be “considered,” which, she noted, is quite different. “We are simply trying to preserve the historic buildings,” Leclere said, adding that it was a “real shame” that one such building had been recently demolished.

The plan states, there is “a need for broader historic preservation effort of the downtown area” and, to that end, the town should “consider developing a Historic District Ordinance which would balance specific protections for structures contributing to the Stanardsville Historic District with the rights of private property owners.”

During his public comments, Pamenter noted that a committee composed of town residents would first have to be established to discuss the wording of such an ordinance and property owners’ rights before it could be established. He suggested that concerned residents such as Ms. Snow could serve on that committee.

The comp plan is available online at www.tjpdc.org/community

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Pauline Hovey is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.  If you find this report helpful, please consider supporting the Free Enterprise Forum.  To learn more visit www.freeenterpriseforum.org

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