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Perryville considering creation of historic preservation ordinance

Perryville is considering a historic preservation ordinance, which would cover all city- and Main Street Perryville-owned properties, with an option for other property owners to opt their parcels in.

“This is a draft. It’s something for us to talk about, think about, talk amongst ourselves, talk with our people and see what they think,” said council member Julie Clay. “Think about it, talk to everyone out there and see what you think. We’ll go from there.”

Clay is part of a committee that has been researching the ordinance and presented a first draft to other council members on Thursday.

The ordinance would establish the Perryville Historic Preservation Commission, consisting of five members appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.

“The members shall have demonstrated interest in historic preservation and at least one member shall have training or experience in a preservation-related profession, architecture, history, archeology, architectural history, planning or related fields,” the ordinance states.

If a professional is not available, the mayor can appoint other people with interest in historic preservation, but an expert must be sought out when issues needing a professional opinion arise.

Any property owner who wants their property on the list must apply; the applications will be reviewed by the commission and a public hearing will be held.

To be considered, the ordinance states, a property has to meet certain criteria. It must be of cultural or archeological value; must be a site of a significant local, state or national event; must be identified with people who made significant contributions; must be identified as work of a master builder, designer or architect whose work has had influence; or must be a building that is recognized for the quality of its architecture and it must retain those elements.

After the public hearing process, the commission will be expected to make a recommendation to the city council.

Properties that are covered by the historic preservation ordinance need to go through the commission for a “certificate of appropriateness” before making major alterations to the interior, if that is visible to the public, and before doing new construction, demolition or relocation.

Clay said the intent was, “if there’s anything we can do to save that property, I think we should try.”

“It’s not going to prevent anybody from tearing anything down that they want to, but it might delay it a little bit,” she said.

The ordinance also gives a 5-percent tax incentive to properties that are approved.