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05/15/2014 at 2:56pm

Historic Rus Carter CottageOrdinance Celebrates Town History

Next Monday, May 19th, Town Council will hold the first public hearing on Ordinance 14-03 - an ordinance that amends the Town's Historic Preservation regulations to establish four historic districts within our Town and makes it easier for folks to participate in the program, which is administered by Council and the Historic Preservation Board (HPB) to encourage preservation of historic structures.

"The genesis of this is that the HPB, the Historic Advisory Committee and the Town currently have a plaque program where places can be given 'Historic Designation' under the Land Development Code,” explained Local Planning Agency (LPA) member Joanne Shamp (the LPA also doubles as the HPB). "There are a number of properties that have been given that designation - such as Beach Elementary, the Newton House and the Historic Cottage - but to get that designation means the properties are subject to regulations as to what can be done to them.”

The idea behind the proposed amendments, Shamp explained, is to enable those who don't want to commit to those regulations to be recognized for their efforts at historic preservation.

Our comprehensive plan encourages historic preservation and things like walking tours through the historic districts on the island,” she said. "This provides an opportunity for folks to follow the guidelines of our comp plan without having to deal with regulation.”

The amended regulations set up various categories of historical importance - historic designation, historic recognition, historic significance and historic interest.

"The first category is already established,” Joanne told us. "The other three categories have been created to encourage preservation without requiring preservation. This allows the community to celebrate historic structures and the 'cottage design' that was characteristic of the island in its early development.”

The new rules also establish four separate historic districts: Early Bayside Cottage - Primo Avenue to Pearl Street, including first bayside canals and early structures; Core Historic Village - Bay Street area including the Estero Island Historic Society and Matanzas Pass Preserve; Core Beachfront Cottage District - includes the early Gulf cottages in the 3000-4000 block of Estero; and the South Beachfront Cottage District - begins near Sterling Street and continues south, including the largest group of remaining cottages.

"These are for interest and encouragement only,” Shamp said. "There will be no immediate effect on the structures located within the districts and no new restrictions in any of this.”

Joanne told us that - should the ordinance pass - pamphlets explaining the different categories will be available at Town Hall and folks can apply there to participate in the voluntary program.

"The goal is to develop this program for residents and visitors and to promote the unique history of our island,” she said. "The application process will be a simple one, and applicants will need to be approved by the HPB. This is designed to be a fun and educational program that islanders will want to participate in.”

Keri Hendry Weeg