Hall Place matter in court

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 29, 2005

It started out as a disagreement between neighbors over whether the Hall Place community should seek state and federal historic designations.

But on Wednesday, the dispute that has split the quiet downtown community and created havoc within the Hall Place Community Association in recent months went to court.

Since July, two organizations – which are both known as the Hall Place Community Association – have been meeting. Members within the original group, founded in 1988, have rebuffed attempts for the historic designations.

Email newsletter signup

The other group, made up of about 15 members who broke away from the original organization this spring, is pushing for the designations.

That group, the Hall Place Community Association Inc., filed its name with the State Corporation Commission in April, listing Tara M. Stainback as the registered agent, said Rosalind Bacon, an agency spokeswoman, on Wednesday.

Sandra Parker, spokeswoman for the original group, said most members were not told that the other group had applied to the SCC for incorporated status.

Warrants were filed in Suffolk General District Court on Aug. 28 calling for Susan Blair and Stainback, who were ousted as president and vice president respectively from the original organization, to return items to that group: two metal signs used to publicize meetings, a civic league banner and the &uot;president’s box,&uot; which contains the group’s financial and membership records.

The warrant also wanted the new group to stop using the association name.

The warrant was filed only after several other attempts to get the items back failed, Parker said.

&uot;We tried to resolve the matter out of court,&uot; said Blair.

In a Sept. 9 letter, the group indicated it would return the items earlier this month.

But Dee Hill, the original organization’s secretary, in a Sept. 15 letter, refused to accept the items unless the group stopped identifying itself as the Hall Place Community Association.

&uot;That just won’t happen,&uot; Blair said. &uot;We are not going to write off that name.&uot;

In court Wednesday, Blair’s group returned the items to Parker, a Hall Place resident and spokeswoman for the original neighborhood league. Judge James Moore dismissed the case, saying that no action could be taken over the use of the name in General District Court.

Neither Parker nor Stainback would say whether the groups would be heading back to court to resolve issues surrounding use of the association’s name.

The battle over whether to proceed with applications to have about 150 homes on South Main and Cedar streets added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places is quietly simmering. Although Stainback’s organization filed its application in January, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources slowed the process this spring in the hope of having additional meetings with residents, said Marc Wagner, an agency spokesman.

Being named to the state and federal registers would give residents who choose to restore their homes access to historic tax credits. But unlike the local designation, they would not have to adhere to strict guidelines for modifying the exteriors of their homes.

The original association’s members worry that state and federal designations would open the door to local historic overlay district, Parker said. Many Hall Place residents are on fixed incomes and can’t afford costly investments that such a district could require, she said.

&uot;The (original) Hall Place Community Association is not going to roll over and not represent…the values of the people who live in the neighborhood,&uot; said Parker. &uot;There are a lot of concerned people who want this resolved.

&uot;We see a bright future and we have a lot planned to promote the neighborhood,&uot; she continued. &uot;We want to live in peace and harmony.&uot;

Ultimately, that’s the same thing Stainback and her pro-historical designation neighbors want.

&uot;I want to live in a quiet neighborhood,&uot; she said. &uot;I want my daughter to be able to ride her bike and up and down the street without seeing a drug deal.&uot;