Williamsburg will soon have an official historic district, which Mayor Roddy Harrison hopes will lead to downtown revitalization.
“The benefits of this are preservation and it also offers potential resources that are available, such state and federal tax credits, incentives and grants,” Harrison said. “In no way are we targeting or going after any particular person. This is just to get our downtown revitalized.”
During Monday’s monthly meeting, the city council approved a resolution creating an architectural review board/historic preservation commission and the appointment of seven members to the commission.
In addition, the council also held the first reading of an ordinance that defines the duties and responsibilities of the new architectural review board.
Williamsburg Main Street Manager Nannie Hays, who has helped spearhead the effort to form the new historic district, cautioned that the board is an advisory commission that only makes recommendations.
It doesn’t prevent private property owners from doing anything to their property, but if they follow the commission’s recommendations and guidelines, then they could qualify for a 30 percent state and federal tax credit.
Hays said the only time the historic district could stop a project is if it is federally funded and isn’t following the guidelines and recommendations.
The historical district will initially largely be composed of buildings between Cumberland Avenue and Sycamore Street starting at the Main Street Bridge and going up to the railroad crossing. It will also include the Sutton house. A building must be at least 50 years old to be placed on the registry.
Hays said that creation of the commission/board will enable Williamsburg to move from a certified Main Street City to a certified local government entity, which is a status only 23 other Kentucky cities have.
This could mean additional grant opportunities for the city.
The board will be required to meet at least four times year but it can meet more.
Councilman Loren Connell said he would like to see the board report on its status to the council on a regular basis, which Harrison agreed was a good idea.
Members of the seven-person review board/preservation commission will be appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council.
The first seven members of the board are Dr. Jim Moss, Ray Sutton, Mike Sharpe, Meg Judd, Cissy Lunce, Maria Harrison and Harry Siler, who is a retired architect.
Ex-officio members of the commission will include the Williamsburg Main Street Manager, who is Hays, and the Williamsburg Zoning Administrator, who is Hershel Roberts.
“It looks like a pretty good committee,” noted Councilwoman Mary Ann Stanfill.
Two of the initial new members will serve two-year terms. Two will serve three-year terms and the remainder will serve four-year terms so the board will maintain continuity. This will be determined at a later date.
After the initial terms, board members will each serve four-year terms.
The new board will go into affect following the second reading of the ordinance, which is scheduled to take place during next month’s council meeting.
Harrison said that the board could meet as early as the day after the March 14 council meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Discussed the cost of snow removal following last month’s storm.
Connell complimented city road crews on their snow removal efforts and asked about the cost of snow removal and whether the city might be getting any reimbursements from state or federal officials.
Harrison said the city is still calculating its costs from the storm but did accumulate over $4,000 in overtime work for city employees in addition to hiring a couple of outside contractors.
He said the city will keep track of the expenses but it is too early to tell whether it will get any financial assistance to pay for the additional work.
Harrison added that all city departments pitched in to assist during the snow removal efforts, including the sanitation department, which went behind road crews and scooped up some of the plowed snow and hauled it off so the city wouldn’t have so many ugly piles of melting snow.
• Discussed placing a sign or signs in the city recognizing sporting accomplishments of two Williamsburg residents last year.
Becky Sharpe was the 2015 women’s state golf amateur champion and Skyler Griffith was the 2015 Kentucky High School Male Athlete of the Year.
Councilwoman Patty Faulkner said she feels the accomplishments of these two athletes need to be recognized.
Harrison said that state officials would only place one name on a road sign, which would be located near the city limits.
He said efforts are underway to design a sign with both athlete’s names on it that city officials will pay for and place somewhere prominent inside the city.
• Discussed the issue of water loss.
Councilman Richard Foley asked if the city had any figures yet on the rate of water production compared to water consumption after replacing most city water meters last year.
Harrison said the city doesn’t have complete figures yet because there have been a few issues with the water meters on lines that supply city water to outside water districts.
Overall, he said the water loss rate seems to have improved but the loss rate jumped up again last month and city utility officials are trying to determine why.
• Discussed hiring of a new city attorney.
Councilwoman Erica Harris inquired about the status of hiring a new city attorney.
Harrison said the city would be placing an advertisement in the paper next week and he hoped to hire a new city attorney within the next few weeks.
Harrison said he might ask some council members to sit on the hiring committee, and in the meantime city officials were using attorneys from the Kentucky League of Cities to handle any legal issues.
After the meeting, Harrison explained that after former city attorney Frank Atkins resigned several years ago, city officials just used other attorneys from the same firm, Jason Price followed by Greta Price, without advertising for a new city attorney.
Harrison said he decided that it was probably a good time to advertise for a city attorney again and Greta Price may apply again for the position.