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Flowery Branch gives first OK to new historic district

POSTED: July 21, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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FLOWERY BRANCH — The Flowery Branch City Council gave its first OK Wednesday morning to new historic district boundaries in the city.

Council members Allen Bryans Sr., Pat Zalewski and Mary Jones voted for the boundaries.

Councilman Chris Fetterman voted against the district.

"This is a clear case of government gone wild," Fetterman said, voicing the same concern that many residents and property owners have had about government regulations over properties in the district.

Councilman Craig Lutz wasn’t at the meeting.

The new boundaries include about 80 properties on and between Atlanta Highway and Gainesville Street.

They would replace two districts created by the city in 2001. Residents had asked the city to look at redrawing what appeared to be "oddly drawn" boundaries. Current boundaries, for example, include the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

County and city governments can pass laws under the Georgia Historic Preservation Act providing for the "protection, enhancement, perpetuation and use of places, districts, sites, buildings, structures and works of art having a special historical, cultural or aesthetic interest or value."

Flowery Branch’s proposed ordinance says that the new district "contains structures and sites which have special character and special historic and aesthetic values" and that "represent one or more periods or styles of architecture typical of one or more eras."

The city’s Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The proposed district drew loud opposition at a July 10 public hearing, with residents and property owners asking not to be included in the district.

Others said they didn’t think the district was necessary — that zoning laws now in place are sufficient to govern historic properties.

Fetterman said at Wednesday’s meeting, "The national historic preservation and Georgia historic preservation acts started with good intentions and through the years have become property rights issues."

Atlanta Highway property owner, Barbara Bostwick, left Wednesday’s meeting upset over the council’s vote.

"More government control is not what we need in this city," she said. "... The zoning laws here are strong enough to protect all property owners."

The council members supporting the new district didn’t comment during the meeting.

The matter comes up for a final vote Aug. 20.

An Aug. 6 vote had been planned, but that meeting was canceled because of a conflict with council members’ schedules.



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