Town Seeking Feedback on Historic District Guidelines
BY TED M. NATT JR.
Southern Pines is looking at updates to its downtown historic district, and property owners and tenants will have an opportunity to provide input for it Thursday.
The public information meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Southern Pines Police Department.
"The update will help maintain the downtown historic district as an important center of commerce and heritage," Historic District Commission Chair Lynn Anderson said. "This is the ideal time to get input, at the start of the process. I'm hoping that we have a good turnout."
The district encompasses 10 blocks in downtown Southern Pines from Vermont Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue between Ashe and Bennett streets.
The update is designed to complement the revision of the town's Unified Devel-opment Ordinance (UDO), which has been underway for more than a year.
Anderson said the existing principles and guidelines discuss "very broadly" color, awnings, siding, roofs, doors, windows, mechanical systems, parking, lighting, landscaping, signs new construction and demolition within the district.
"Right now, our guidelines are sparse," she said. "We're really hoping that our new guidelines will be a useful tool for the commission, the town staff and landlords or tenants wanting to make changes to a building."
Commission members believe that better illustrations and design guidance can assist property owners before they seek property improvements. They also think improved design guidance will assist commission reviews and approvals.
"The update will include a matrix or diagram to walk people through the process from Step One to completion," Anderson said. "When these guidelines are completed, they will also serve as a tool or reference for people to maintain their building."
The commission is seeking answers to the following questions:
What historic district information and design issues should be addressed?
What specific design issues do you find most challenging to deal with?
How can the guidelines assist you in developing and implementing a successful project?
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, said the commission is asking the right questions.
"It's great that they're open to that kind of feedback," Coughlin said. "It appears they're being very sensitive to adopting regulations and guidelines that make sense."
Coughlin said the commission also appears to be asking property owners and tenants, "How can we help you be more successful while maintaining the character of our community?"
"Both government and business have to work together to make sure that Moore County has the best downtowns possible," he said. "We have unique downtowns in every community. They're not cookie-cutter. I think that is one thing that makes our county so great."
Tony Grausso, a founder of the Broad Street Merchant Community, lauded the commission for "being sensitive to the charm and appeal" of downtown Southern Pines.
"I think it's great," Grausso said.
Amy Natt, president of the Southern Pines Business Association, said the group was encouraging its members to be involved in the process.
"Downtown serves as the heart and soul of our community, and maintaining its historic appeal is what draws many visitors to the area," Natt said. "As an association, we look forward to bringing our members information that will help increase customers to our local businesses and highlight the many charms our town has to offer for years to come.
"Efforts such as these guidelines will help preserve the quality we have all come to appreciate."
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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