Council plans joint meeting with landmarks commission

Published 8:30 pm Saturday, January 29, 2011

Suffolk City Council on Wednesday will hold a joint work session with the Historic Landmarks Commission on proposed changes to the city’s Historic Conservation Overlay District.

The work session begins at 4 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St. A regular council meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

The discussion was sparked when a Pinner Street homeowner made modifications to his home that were determined to be against the historic district design guidelines. He appealed the decision to City Council, and members of that body requested the joint meeting.

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Among the options on the table are reducing the size of the district or amending the design guidelines for the district. A proposal to post signs that more clearly identify where the historic district begins also will be considered.

A handful of neighborhoods have been recommended for deletion from the district because their historical significance is not as great as the rest of the district. The current boundary of the district was adopted in 1999 as part of the revisions to the Unified Development Ordinance.

“In reviewing the Historic District boundary, there are certain portions that are of a greater historical significant than others,” says a staff report included in materials for Wednesday’s meeting. “In certain portions of the district, there are typical vernacular structures that are seen in many locations within the city while there are other buildings that truly represent the most historic buildings and define the history of the city of Suffolk over the years. Their preservation should be of the greater importance.”

“Therefore,” continues the staff report, “there appears to be some justification for narrowing the boundary and only concentrating on the most historic structures, which ensures that historic efforts are consistent with the Historic District Design Guidelines.”

City staff recommended that Council consider reducing the size of the district and direct the Historic Landmarks Commission, a council-appointed group, to provide input on where the new boundaries should be drawn.

At the 7 p.m. regular meeting, a public hearing will be held on the capital improvements plan. That document is available for public viewing on the city’s website,