Harlem city officials have postponed two public hearing that had been planned to solicit public input on a proposed historic district in the city.
The hearings, which were originally planned for Monday and Tuesday, have been postponed pending more discussion between the city's Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council members, said Mayor Scott Dean after a Thursday work session on the topic.
"The council is still moving ahead trying to get true and accurate information," Dean said. "... Some members of council want to condense the district and some wanted to leave it like it is."
The district proposed by the commission encompasses most of the city's downtown area. It will stretch east and west from Paschal Street to North Louisville and East Boundary streets, and to South Bell and Blanchard streets to include two cemeteries and Mount Moriah Baptist Church, the Harlem Heights neighborhood and the Sawdust community and Phillips Acres.
City officials hope to agree on district lines before the Feb. 19 city council meeting where they could vote to approve sending the proposed district and guidelines to the Georgia Historic Preservation Division for approval. The guidelines would govern aesthetic changes to the exteriors of homes inside the proposed district to ensure they remain historically accurate.
Commission chair Ann Blalock said the next step is to hold the hearings for public input, which she anticipates to be scheduled for the beginning of April. Property owners within the proposed district will be notified 10 to 20 days before the hearings, Blalock said.
So far, the commission has not taken any action except to ask the city council to impose a moratorium on building permits. The council approved a 30-day moratorium, which is reinstated each month until the district and guidelines go into effect.
"No one has been denied a (legitimate building) permit during this period of time," Blalock said.
She said the historic district is especially important in earning grants for renovation of such historic properties as the former Columbia Theatre building.
"A lot of your state and national grants, you cannot get if the property is not protected historically," Blalock said. "If (the theater) is going to have two gas stations on either side of it, nobody is going to put their money into it."
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