City Should Form Historic Districts, Study Committee Says
With a vote of four to one, the Historic District Study Committee recommended Tuesday, October 2, that the city council establish the two proposed historic districts. The final report will be compiled and presented at the Wednesday, October 31, council meeting, which will be at 3:30 p.m. The report will also include the suggestion that design guidelines developed during the historic district study should be incorporated into the architectural review process, even if the historic districts are not adopted.
At its meeting October 2, the committee determined there are enough historic resources to merit creating two districts, one covering Market Street and Main Street from Fort Street to the north and Windermere Point to the south, and the second from Windermere Point west to the school, including Cadotte Avenue to the north.
While a vote is planned for this month, the city council has until June 16, 2013.
Committee member Steve Moskwa, the only contrary vote, asked that his concerns be voiced as opposed to the idea, and the other committee members agreed to this. Mr. Moskwa said he wouldn’t support the idea of a historic district unless the property owners in the district supported the idea. He said it would be better to get all the property owners behind the idea before moving forward.
Sam Barnwell suggested that a dissenting comment could be included in the historic district report.
Mike Hart and Nancy May, who were present during a subcommittee meeting with Mr. Moskwa, explained their position to support forming the historic districts. During the subcommittee meeting Wednesday, September 12, they stated that the overall data collected through the study supports forming a historic district, and argued that all opinions submitted during the public comment should be considered.
Mr. Barnwell said that, because the districts benefit the general public, and not just the property owners, creating the districts does not infringe on property rights. It’s also the only way the City of Mackinac Island could create a demolition ordinance, which would require a property owner to prove that a building should be leveled, either because it would benefit the community, provide relief of a financial burden, the building is considered a safety risk, or prevents a significant improvement project that benefits the community. Without such oversight, demolition of historic structures could take place at will.
He noted that his vote to support recommending a historic district would be independent of his vote on City Council. The study committee charge was to determine if there are enough historic properties to merit the two districts being formed, and his vote at city council will consider whether the historic district, in his opinion, is the right decision at the time.
The fifth committee member, Brad Chambers, voted in favor.
Regardless of the decision to adopt the districts, all members of the committee supported the idea that the design guidelines created in August 2011 should be adopted by the city.