Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 26, 2011

Business owners speak out

Creation of involuntary historic overlay zones denied by P&Z

WEATHERFORD — Eight months of work by city staff and the historic preservation commission to allow for the creation of non-voluntary historic overlays was denied by the planning and zoning board this week.

A full room of residents attended a public hearing on an amendment to the city code for overlay and special districts, and when it came time to speak, it was clear they were against the proposed changes.

Members of the P&Z and historic preservation commission first met for a joint workshop in December to discuss creating a downtown overlay to preserve historical buildings. Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens spoke to the group about what his city did to revitalize their downtown area.

After that, the historic preservation commission set out to create an ordinance that would not only preserve downtown, but earn the city a certified local government status, a National Parks Service requirement  for numerous state and federal grants.

To be named a certified local government, a city must have an ordinance which allows for the creation of historic overlay districts on a non-voluntary basis.

It was the historic preservation commission’s intent once the overlay ordinance was passed, to create an historic overlay district for downtown. Property owners in the district would then have had to receive permission from the city before making changes to the outside facade of their building.

But an added level of red tape to make changes to their buildings did not sit well with downtown property owners or the planning and zoning.

During the public hearing, business owner Gary Jordan spoke out against adding more government into the lives of property owners.

Jordan bought property in the downtown area in the ’80s and remodeled it using money out of his own pocket. He said he avoided incentives and government money because of the delays it causes and the rules imposed.

“Government intentions, whether at the federal level, state level, city level or county level, may be good, but too many levels of bureaucracy and nonsense inhibits and prohibits the individual businessman to do what he needs with his property,” he said. “What we have here in this ordinance, this new downtown district, is going to hurt the downtown property owners.”

Churches near downtown would have also felt the effects of a non-voluntary overlay.

Lawrence Bierschenk, a member of Saint Stephen Catholic Church, said volunteers have worked to restore the 1902 church on South Main Street over the past two years. During that process, they tore down the old rectory that was determined to be unfit for use, and they have future plans to make the building handicap accessible.

“If this ordinance were in effect and we asked to tear down the residence (the older rectory), you would have said ‘No, it’s part of the historic structure,’” Bierschenk said. “And the rest of the property would not have been usable.

“You are stepping into territory I don’t think you have any business stepping into.”

Nearby, the congregation at Weatherford Presbyterian Church has been doing the same. Pastor Lou Tiscione said the ordinance would increase both the amount of time and money needed to restore the church constructed in 1896.

“It would be cumbersome and a financial hardship for our church,” he said.

The new ordinance would have allowed, with approval by the historic preservation commission, P&Z and city council, the creation of historic overlay zones without consent of the property owners. There was a section in the ordinance for property owners to come back and request to be removed, but they would have had to go through all three boards to do so.

Following the public hearing, members of the P&Z unanimously agreed they could not support an ordinance that would allow involuntary designation as an historic district.

“My underlying protest is with this, using Mr. Jordan as an example,” board chairman Darren Clark said. “Say he’s sitting on his couch watching the Cowboys one Sunday and someone says his land is not part of an historic overlay. Now he has to jump through hoops to have it undone ... If we are doing this just for certified local government funds, it’s not worth it to these people here.”

While the item to designate a downtown historic overlay district was subsequently removed from the agenda, two members of the historic preservation commission did address the P&Z about the item during its public hearing.

“I’ve spent more time on this square than anyone in this room,” Roberta Furman said. “The boarded up buildings make me sick. I joined the commission because I wanted to see something changed.”

She said she respected the decision that was made, but wants to see Weatherford retain its uniqueness.

Kathleen Wildwood shared the same feelings.

“Like Roberta, I would like to see us find some way we can keep the uniqueness of this community, so we can continue to draw people here who appreciate the uniqueness that we have,” Wildwood said. “We have not quite gotten to the place we need to be. We did spend many hours trying to bring something of worth that would be acceptable, and we will continue to do that.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • WC Granbury to offer courses for future teachers

    The Weatherford College Education Center at Granbury will offer courses required for the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree (AAT) in fall 2014.

    August 1, 2014

  • WC celebrates workforce excellence

    Weatherford College, in partnership with PECOFacet and Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, has received the Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) Workforce Excellence Award.

    August 1, 2014

  • 0801 loc historic home of month.jpg Historic Home of the Month named

    The Parker County Heritage Society’s Historic Home of the Month is the Norton-Black-Lott Home, located at 406 West Columbia Street. Living in the house her great grandfather built, Martha and Richard Lott are the caretakers of this Weatherford historic home. 

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • AgriLife to offer landscape class

    The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service of Parker County, in cooperation with the Parker County Master Gardeners, will conduct a workshop entitled Creating and Maintaining a Healthy, Drought-Tolerant and Sustainable Landscape.

    July 31, 2014

  • 0729 loc burch school.jpg Rainforest Camp at Burch School of Music

    In June, there were seven students who explored the flora and fauna of the rainforest through music at The Burch School of Music. Each child made his or her own rain stick, along with other crafts and art work. For two hours each day for five days, students explored a different level of the rainforest, starting with the emergent layer at the top, moving through the canopy, the understory, the forest floor and the rivers. They let bats fly (black balloons) and were eaten by a boa constrictor. On the last day they dressed as natives and drummed together.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Republican Women to meet Aug. 14 at Doss

    The Parker County Republican Women’s monthly meeting will be Aug. 14 at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center in Weatherford. The meeting is open to the public. 

    July 31, 2014

  • 0727 loc peaster ffa.jpg Peaster FFA students attend state convention

    The 86th Texas FFA Convention was recently held in Fort Worth. Peaster’s Hannah Ford completed her year of service as a state officer. 

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Parker County Heritage Society to meet Aug. 19

    Parker County Heritage Society will meet Aug. 19 in the home of Nathan and Abby Hamessely at 410 W. Spring St. at 7 p.m. 

    July 27, 2014

  • AgriLife to offer parenting classes Aug. 19, 21

    The Texas AgriLife Extension Service of Parker County will offer parenting classes on Aug. 19 and 21, 2014, at the Parker County Agricultural Services Center. The classes will be from 1-5 p.m. each day and will include lunch. The cost to attend the class is $10 per person for the two-day class. Scholarships are available.

    July 27, 2014

  • CASA receives national certification for its efforts

    WEATHERFORD – CASA Hope for Children of Parker and Palo Pinto County has just been awarded certification by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. This certification recognizes that CASA Hope for Children is in compliance with National CASA’s high standards for quality child advocacy.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction