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Public show support for new demolition permit policy

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | 8:18 p.m. CDT; updated 11:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 28, 2008

COLUMBIA — Following the Columbia City Council's recommendation, the Historic Preservation Commission held a public meeting Tuesday evening to allow input on a new demolition application permit policy.

The policy, which would give the commission a formal method to review demolition permits for buildings more than 50 years old, would potentially allow for better communication between the commission and the Protective Inspections Division, which issues the demolition permits. The commission would have 10 days to review the application and would be able to contact applicants afterward to discuss alternatives to demolition.

Six out of the seven attendees spoke at the meeting and all six were in favor of the policy. Brian Treece, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, said the support was an affirmation of group's 14 months of work on the policy.

Brian Pape was first to go before the commission and show his support. Pape said Columbia would benefit from this kind of ordinance, and that it's surprising how often people don't realize they have options other than demolition.

"I'm pleased that everyone who came was in support," Pape said after the meeting.

He added that the support for the ordinance at the meeting may be indicative of a larger support base within the community.

Another supporter of the ordinance is Vicki Ott, a developer and owner of commercial real estate properties. Ott, along with her husband, said the proposal is justifiable and agreed that documenting historic properties is important.

"Because of our views on historic preservation, we're willing to wait, to work around that obstacle," Ott said. "I think for our city to have individuals to support historic preservation is wonderful."

As a developer, Ott recognizes that having a 10-day waiting period might not be convenient for developers who are working within a time frame, but that the 10-day period is within reason.

Linda Rootes, president of the North Central Columbia Neighborhood Association, was also in support of the policy and wished the commission good luck. Rootes said she has tried to document buildings in her neighborhood she knew were facing demolition and commended the commission for its efforts to draw more attention to this issue.

"Raising awareness is important," Rootes said.

Treece said the Historic Preservation Commission will now send the policy draft back to the City Council for another review. 

"We appreciate the public input," he added.


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