TALLADEGA -- The Talladega Historic Preservation Committee during its regular meeting Thursday night discussed the form letters sent out to property owners who may be in violation of the preservation ordinance.

During the commission’s November meeting, the panel members had agreed to send a letter to the owners of the historic home on the 500 block of South Street East, who were reportedly building a garage without first securing a certificate of appropriateness (COA).

Thursday, the owner explained that she was closing in a carport that had been built by her grandmother in the 1980s but was now no longer safe. She added that she had secured all of the necessary permits and certifications while working on the home but did not believe that she needed one to enclose a carport.

In fact, the work was already complete. The commission voted unanimously to award the certificate after the fact.

The property owner said she had first become aware of the issue with the HPC after reading about it in The Daily Home on Nov. 4. The registered letter the board agreed to send was not mailed until Nov. 21 and was not picked up until Nov. 28.

“I thank you for the work you are doing and I appreciate it,” she said. “But this will be a negative experience for a lot of people. The letter I got was insulting and intimidating. My experience (with the commission) was not friendly, neighborly or helpful. And the information on the city’s website is wrong … My family has been here for generations, and I respect and appreciate what the board is trying to do, but…”

Board Chairwoman Nancy Lutchendorf said “We have to abide by the city’s ordinance. We can’t change that. We have to be matter-of-fact and businesslike.”

Commission member Larry Harris said having property owners read about decisions affecting them in the paper before being informed by the board “leaves a bad taste.”

Said Lutchendorf, “We’re part of the city. But we’re just one little finger. Sometimes we get shoved down the list.”

Said Harris, “We have a responsibility and we have priorities. If it’s not happening, that’s a problem. ‘Being shoved down the list’ doesn’t cut it.”

Commission member Chuck Roberts suggested “softening up” the language in the commission’s letters, and board member David Street agreed, although no formal action was taken.

Harris also asked that board members receive their information packets earlier, to allow him time to look at properties himself, during the day, before voting on them. Lutchendorf said both of the COAs taken up Thursday had only come in two days before.

Also Thursday, the commission:

  • Approved a COA for new lettering on the sign at the Armstrong-Osborne Public Library. The old letters had largely fallen off; and
  • Approved an application for a sign on the 100 block of Court Street North.