Norcross says no to historic district boundaries

NORCROSS - City Council members Monday denied a proposal that would have established specific boundaries for a Norcross historic preservation district.

A historic preservation ordinance was adopted in 2006, and the city's Historic Preservation Commission then conducted a historic survey of the town. The suggested boundaries were based on the results of that survey.

Properties that fell within the proposed boundaries were divided into four tiers, or levels of historic importance. According to Jennifer Peterson, community development director for Norcross, the tiers were created to minimize the burden on owners of historic properties.

Tier 1 would indicate an exceptional example of a resource style or type. Tier 2 would indicate a good example. Tier 3 would indicate a structure of historic importance that has been altered, and tier 4 would represent a property that may not have a historic structure but falls within the district. About 30 percent of the properties within the proposed boundaries were Tier 1 parcels.

Chuck Cimarik is the vice-chair of the Historic Preservation Commission and owns a house in the proposed district.

"The Historic Preservation district and code are supported by state law, so if, say, the county DOT came in here and said they were going to put a four-lane road through here, the historic preservation district would have to be considered," said Cimarik.

Most resident input Monday night was in opposition to establishing district boundaries. Michael Marlowe has for 16 years owned a Norcross house that is more than 100 years old.

"This is very personal to those of us who live in the (proposed) historic preservation district," Marlowe said. "This is just another layer of burden on us that would not be welcome."

Currently, the city's Architectural Review Board governs architectural changes to structures. Marlowe and others voiced concern about having to go through "too much bureaucracy" to modify or even maintain their property.

Doris and Tom Day have owned a historic Norcross home for 21 years, and the couple spoke in support of establishing a tiered historic district.

"I feel that this ordinance is necessary ... so that our property will maintain its value," Doris Day said.

When the issue came to a vote, Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Riehm moved to approve establishing the boundaries and the four tiers. Riehm's motion died for lack of a second.

Councilmen Jeff Allen, Keith Shewbert and Terry Bowie remarked following the vote that they were more in favor of an advisory panel than an enforced policy.

Rezonings approved

The property at 510 West Peachtree St. was rezoned from commercial to residential use Monday night, following a rezoning request tabled for two months while the applicant revised the site plan to meet zoning requirements.

Paul Lowry plans to build two upscale homes on the .53-acre parcel, which abuts a cemetery on one side and a residence on the other.

Lillian Webb Field was rezoned Monday to make way for Norcross Town Center, a mixed-use development which will include a restaurant, hotel, retail/loft space, a playground and fountain, and greenspace.