The five-page resolution the council will consider at its Monday meeting is a scaled-down version of the 18-page document proponents originally submitted.The new version describes a weaker commission than advocates had envisioned, requiring the new body to seek the council’s approval to spend money and make many decisions. But the five-page document may stand a much better chance at getting the council’s OK.
“It may not be as good as some people wanted, but I think it gets the ball rolling,” said Mark Jones, council president. “I think it’s a good compromise.”
Some council members said the original proposal gave too much authority to the group. However, more members now support it with the changes, Jones said.
Despite the restrictions of the new proposal, historical preservation advocates say the commission will still be effective if the council passes the resolution.
“We have so much history in Jacksonville, there needs to be a plan for historic preservation and that’s the main purpose of having a commission,” said Joseph Munster, a resident who works on historical preservation projects.
Another resident, Jerry Klug, has led the charge to establish the commission. Klug began promoting the idea two years ago and said he is in favor of the document.
“I’m happy with the way that it turned out,” Klug said. “I’d love to see the first reading go through, and I’d love to see it get passed.”
Jones agreed that the establishment of a commission will help the city.
“Historic towns are growing, and they just have an automatic drawing card for visitors to the community,” Jones said. “It also has a sense of pride with it.”
The resolution calls for a seven-member commission appointed by the council. Each member must be from Jacksonville and have experience in architectural history, urban planning, law or other fields related to history.
The proposal restricts commission members from receiving salaries or spending money without permission, but, the document would give the commission the authority to hire employees and seek reimbursement for commission-related expenditures.
The resolution also prohibits the commission from formally recognizing historical buildings and from establishing historical districts without the council’s approval.
The commission must also get support from 60 percent of property owners in each area it seeks to designate as a historical district.
“I think it needed to be a little more than just a simple majority,” Jones said. “I think having more of a supermajority in favor of doing something will be better when the time comes.”
The document also gives the council, a historical society, neighborhood associations, property owners and groups of property owners the right to recommend properties for historical designations.
The council will meet to discuss the resolution Monday at 6 p.m. during a work session at City Hall. It will read the document in a formal meeting at 7 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.