A very nice representative from the city came to our neighborhood association meeting last week. One of the things I love about my neighbors, at least the ones who regularly come to the meetings, is that they are not shy. They are not shy about asking difficult questions or saying what is on their minds. They are also so nice about it that one cannot be offended.
We asked the rep about everything from recycling (he'd come to tell us about a recycling contest between our neighborhood and the one next to us) to civic plans. The city spent a lot of money on an Architectural Planning Guide to guide folks through the exterior renovation process. It recommends things such as period appropriate colors and building styles and adornments. Some of us have been suspicious that it is a move toward designating more neighborhoods as historic. So we asked. The rep said that our neighborhood was not in the works for any kind of historic designation. A lot of us heaved sighs of relief. Nonetheless someone did ask the million dollar question: if the neighborhood were up for consideration as a historic district would we be informed? The rep looked a little surprised and said of course we would be informed. Being a suspicious sort I'm still going to keep my eyes open.
The rep did remind us that Old Southwest residents requested the designation. True, but I suspect that a lot of those people did not fully understand what the designation meant in terms of rules and costs. I've looked at one or two other areas with historic review boards and it does seem that Roanoke's is pretty draconian. I would hate to see my neighbors a few doors down have to remove their rusted chicken sculptures. I swear that they look much cooler than that description would suggest.