The designs of Augusta’s new library on Telfair Street and the new Information and Technology building on Greene Street have at least one thing in common.
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) had to approve how they looked, by city ordinance.
“This comes as a surprise. I’m a little disappointed, particularly in the ordinance, the change in the ordinance,” said Historic Augusta Executive Director Erick Montgomery.
What the Augusta Commission is considering changing in the code would allow the city to get out of going before the Historic Preservation Commission, when it comes to its buildings in historic districts.
“It just means, for those cases that we think that, we need to move forward, We just don’t need their blessings, at the end of the day. I just think it makes sense to have that in your tool box in the event you need it,” said Commissioner Ben Hasan.
“They would require the citizens within each historic district to go before the Historic Preservation Commission and not the city, and we think that’s wrong,” said Montgomery.
“We need to be able to override any decision they make,” said Commissioner Bill Lockett. “Is that fair, the government has something the public doesn’t?” we asked Lockett. “Sure, it’s fair, I don’t see anything that’s unfair about it,” answered Lockett.
“No one should be burdened with that, at the end of the day. A lot of times, like I say, a lot of times the historical society in their wishes to do well and do their job, they’ll be unfunded mandates,” said Hasan.
The full Augusta Commission is scheduled to take up the code change next week.
Now, the Commission has always had the authority to override any decision of the HPC on its, or private, property. This ordinance change would just allow the city, with its buildings, to avoid having to face the HPC in the first place.