Planning Board cuts out most residences, narrows focus to Main Street
Waxhaw residents and commissioners will be talking about a greatly reduced Historic District during the March 19 public hearing.
During their Monday, Feb. 21, meeting, the Waxhaw Planning Board approved by a 4-2 vote plans for a historic district in the town. They cut the size of the proposed district however, narrowing it to just Main Street and the area immediately surrounding it.
The proposed district would now have borders starting at the intersection of Broad and Main streets on the left and ending just before the intersection of Main and McKibben streets. On the north side, it would begin at the intersection of Providence and Howie Mine streets, while on the south, it would end at the intersection of Broome and Caldwell streets.
The move, which would eliminate over two-thirds of the original proposed district, isn’t enough for opponents, who say it misses the point.
“I feel like no one is listening to me,” Michelle Holston, owner of the McDonald Hotel, said. “It’s just a bit ridiculous, it seems like we’re putting the cart before the horse.”
Built in 1912, the hotel, located at 224 W North Main St, was a symbol of Colonial Revival architecture and continued operating until 1946. Now, Holston, a 36-year resident of the town, lives there with her family and doesn’t want the town telling her how to maintain it.
What the town doesn’t seem to understand, Holston and other opponents say, is that those currently living in the proposed district don’t want it.
The issue centers around requirements the district would impose, making residents follow strict guidelines about what repairs or improvements they make to their houses. The guidelines would ban vinyl siding, synthetic windows and synthetic shingles and require residents to use approved materials.
“We’re taking good care of the historical element of Waxhaw, let’s move on,” Holston said.
In 1991, Waxhaw received a designation for the historic district from the National Register of Historic Places. Besides documenting the district’s historic status, the designation allows property owners to apply for state and federal tax credits for renovation or restoration projects. That designation, however, does not require the property owners to maintain the historic look of the structures.
Wanting to preserve what they consider the town’s unique character, the council in 2009 started working on its own version of a historic district, including new zoning ordinances.
In December 2009, the town hired consulting firm Circa Inc. for $7,550 to update the 1991 inventory of historic homes and recommend a boundary. The town also paid Hill Studios $27,585 to create design guidelines governing changes to properties in the district.
During their meeting Tuesday, Waxhaw commissioners set the public hearing for March 19 at 9 a.m, to be held at Waxhaw Elementary, after shooting down a request from Mayor Daune Gardner to postpone the event at least a month.
“I would like a little more time to reach out to the property owners, just to hear from the individuals,” Gardner said.
Commissioners disagreed, asking why Gardner hadn’t done that already.
“This has been going on for over a year, we’ve had ample time (to get in touch),” Commissioner Joyce Blythe said.
Gardner said she was waiting to collect all information about the proposal before meeting with property owners.
“We didn’t have the input from the historic commission (until now), nor did we have the input from the planning board,” Gardner said. “That information was not in place.”
After the public hearing, the historic district proposal will go before commissioners for a final vote.