Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Residents, landowners wary of proposed F'ville historic district
By MONROE ROARK
Some people in Fayetteville are worried that a proposed new historic preservation district could cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in property values.
Edward and Shelby Travis just want to be able to fix their roof.
At last week's City Council work session, Shelby Travis was told that she could repair the roof on her house, built in 1907 and in the Main Street district, by either using the same materials already on the roof or getting approval from the city to use different materials.
"That's like saying, 'Here's my checkbook, you pick it our for me,'" she said earlier this week.
With the property already coming under Main Street regulations, she feels that this is another layer of rules without any return for the property owner.
"Don't keep putting layers on me without perks," she said.
The proposed ordinance that would establish Fayetteville's Historic Preservation District has generated a great deal of response from those whose property would be affected. Nearly 90 minutes was spent at last week's council work session allowing residents to speak out, and most did not like it, at least in its current form.
Several speakers emphasized the fact that they did not want restrictions on their property that would prevent them from selling it or rezoning it to get what they feel is its full value. Concern also was raised that repairs needed for property might be too costly for owners to bear but could be mandated by the city.
"It's like the city wants to make it [historic district] an attraction, but make the residents keep it up," said Travis.
Mayor Kenneth Steele repeatedly stated in the meeting that the city was looking for as much input from residents as it could get, and there would be no quick move to adopt this or any other ordinance. He reaffirmed that stance Tuesday.
"It's a fluid situation," he told The Citizen. "We might not even go forward with it.
"It's a worthy goal, but how do you achieve that goal with the support of the citizens? If we can't, we won't do it. It's a good idea, but I'm not in favor of intrusive government."
Tomorrow night's City Council meeting was to be the first reading of the ordinance, but Steele said that the matter could be sent back to the Historic Preservation Committee for further study.
That would surprise Alvin Huddleston, who said earlier this week that he thinks the ordinance is "a done deal, a formality. I think they'll have a first and second reading, then adopt it. But they might fool me."
Huddleston also spoke at last week's work session, saying that he felt passage of the ordinance would cause his family to lose control of property it has owned for decades.
Huddleston said this week that his family moved to Jeff Davis Drive in 1957. "You could lay down on Jeff Davis there was no traffic then," he said.
Now the traffic is thick throughout the Main Street district, and Huddleston says he doesn't understand the reasoning behind designating a historic district where heavy traffic will obviously continue, if not get worse.
His 80-year-old mother, who still lives on Jeff Davis, had to quit driving several years ago, not because she was physically impaired, but because the traffic was too heavy around her house, he said.
"You can't keep funneling traffic through it and have it stay like it is," he said. "What if they have to widen the road? They'll have to use our property to do it."
He pointed out the First United Methodist Church's sanctuary project several years ago, when the church got permission from the city for extra parking. The state DOT then came through and four-laned Ga. Highway 54, and the parking was lost, Huddleston said.
As far as property values are concerned, he cites the two historic houses on the northwest corner of hwys. 54 and 85, opposite Dunkin' Donuts and owned by descendants of the Redwine family.
The Ramsey family, whose wife was a Redwine, has lived in the corner house for many years, according to Jane Dickerson, another former Redwine and Mrs. Ramsey's sister who now lives in Henry County. Dickerson's son spoke to the council last week on behalf of the family, who was accompanied by legal counsel.
Dickerson also confirmed that the Ramseys purchased the house next door after its owner died a couple of years ago. Beyond that is a vacant lot also owned by the family, and land that extends to LaFayette Drive.
For now, those two majestic homes sit on what is arguably the busiest road in Fayette County, a few feet from the Fayetteville square, making access difficult if not impossible at times.
"That property is worth $1 million if it's done right," said Huddleston. "It's not worth $100,000 if it has to be kept like it is."
Steele does not foresee any official city action on this until more information is gathered. The city also will be looking into possible avenues for grant money, particularly from state and federal sources.
"I think the citizens know we're receptive," he said. "Bottom line, we'll do what the community wants to be done."
For Shelby Travis, that's easy.
"If I can just put my own roof on my house without any hassle, that'll be all right with me," she said.