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Zoners want opt out for historic district residents

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Final decision now lies with city council

By Meaghan Downs

The Planning and Zoning Commission said yes to creating a historic district in the city of Lawrenceburg.
With one notable and additional recommendation: the inclusion of a zoning category with an “opt out” provision for property owners.
The commission voted unanimously last Tuesday night to recommend the establishment of a historic district in the city, but with a condition for the council to consider creating a zoning category to give an option to property owners who do not want to be in the historic district.
Currently, no such zoning category exists in the zoning ordinance.
The proposed historic district will affect about 172 city properties, according to documents provided by the historic district commission to Planning and Zoning.
Planning and Zoning vice chairman Jody Hughes said the historic district would overall be a positive thing, but he still wants to protect those individuals that may not want to participate.
“A lot of historical sites in that parameter we’re talking about, they qualify to be an historical site, and would qualify for funding, if it’s available, tax credits,” Hughes said, “but I don’t want to burden an individual that doesn’t want to play the game.”
“If an individual doesn’t want to play, they shouldn’t be forced to play.”
Planning and Zoning member Gary McInturf, who made the first motion on the recommendation, agreed on including the opt out provision in the zoning category.  
“The people who want to be in it can be in it, and the people who want to be out can be out,” McInturf said.
Planning and Zoning members Bryan Brothers and Freddy Carter were absent from the Feb. 12 meeting.
In its recommendation motion, the Planning and Zoning board also said it “makes no position on boundaries,” meaning the board chose not to provide specific boundary recommendations to the council.
According to the city ordinance detailing the process of creating a historic district, the Planning and Zoning board, along with forwarding its recommendation to the council, needed to also include a Comprehensive Plan amendment and a zoning map change.
The board only sent its yes recommendation — not the amendment or the zoning map change.
According to Director of the Regional Planning Council with Bluegrass Area District Development Dal Harper, Planning and Zoning must hold a public hearing and take direct, public testimony in order to make an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan or to complete a zoning map change.
“It would be difficult for any planning commission to make such as decision [on boundaries] without taking direct testimony,” Harper said during last Tuesday’s meeting.
If a historic district were established, every property owner in charge of a designated historic property would need to keep all exterior portions of the property in good repair, according to the city ordinance on the historic district.
Property owners with land, homes or businesses in the historic district are to apply for a certificate from the commission before undertaking new work on a historic property.
The commission, according to city ordinance, has no authority to make property owners attend public hearings or evaluations by the historic commission on the state of their properties, or to implement the recommendations of the commission.
The historic district ordinance also states “any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $50, nor more than $500 for each offense. Each day’s violation shall constitute a separate offense.”
No specific violations are listed in the 2006 historic district ordinance.

Next steps for the historic district
Following Planning and Zoning’s positive recommendation, the proposed plan to create a Lawrenceburg historic district will now go to the city council. According to the city’s historic district ordinance, the council has 60 days to review the Planning and Zoning recommendation before it makes a final vote on establishing a historic district within the city limits.
The ultimate decision on whether boundaries could be or should be modified is up to the city council, according to City Attorney Robert Myles.
No information has been released regarding if the historic district recommendation will be on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled council meeting March 11, or the council’s April 8 meeting.

Properties included in proposed historic district
The potential historic district includes the following property boundaries:
• All properties fronting Main street, starting on the west side of North Main Street at 215 North Main, and starting on the east side of North Main Street at 126 North Main (Early Childhood Center) and following Main Street in a southerly direction and ending on the east side of South Main at Bond and Lillard Road and on the west side of South Main at Carlton Drive.
• All properties fronting East Woodford Street, beginning at the intersection of Woodford Street and Main and running east to the railroad crossing.
• All properties fronting East Court Street, beginning at the intersection of Court Street and Main and running east to the railroad crossing.
• All properties fronting College Street.