Council reads, discusses historical commission resolution
by Laura Gaddy
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Aug 13, 2013 | 3461 views |  0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
JACKSONVILLE -- The Jacksonville City Council on Monday held a public reading of a proposed resolution to set up a historical commission. The reading is necessary for the council to vote to establish the authority, which could suggest areas of the city to designate as historical districts.

A group of Jacksonville residents, lead by Jerry Klug, have been asking the council to establish the commission for more than two years. Klug and Councilman Jonathan Tompkins have worked together to draft the resolution.

Before Monday’s meeting, the council held a work session to discuss the proposal.

Councilman Truman Norred said he’s concerned the wording in the document could eventually force the city to hire someone to work as a clerk for the commission.

The council addressed his concerns by changing wording in the document to “engaging” from “employing.”

Mayor Johnny Smith said he worries the resolution might prevent property owners in historical districts from having the flexibility to repair their property during emergencies. To address that concern, Council President Mark Jones recommended inserting a clause that would give the building inspector the authority to override any of the commission's guidelines during emergencies.

Norred had more general questions about the decision, too.

“I really can’t find the community support for it,” Norred said. “We represent the people and I’m sharing what I hear.”

Jones recommended taking a vote on whether or not the council wants to proceed with the plan at all.

“I want to move forward with this, but I want to get some results,” Jones said.

The council did not vote on the matter during the meeting, opting instead to move forward with the reading.

Two property owners stood during the work session to talk to the council about their thoughts on the commission. Steve Williams said he thinks the city should work on doing basic maintenance — cutting grass and fixing draining problems — in his neighborhood instead of setting up the commission.

Bill Collins, who owns property on A Street, stood to say he supports the proposal. Collins, who bought a home in Jacksonville for his daughter, said he’s seen historical commissions bring about positive change in Rome, Ga., where he lives.

“It helps, I think,” Collins said. “It’s an opportunity for us to improve and control what takes place.”

About six more people stood up in support of the proposal at the meeting. Among them was Klug, who said he enjoys working with the city.

“I like democracy and I think democracy is the way things are done,” Klug said. “I”m ready to move forward with and see what we can do.”

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.

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